FCA Will Make a Plug-In Hybrid Jeep Renegade by 2020

Production preparation is underway at FCA's Melfi, Italy, factory.

FCA US LLC—© 2018 FCA US LLC

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is preparing to start production of a Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid. The eco-friendly model will be built alongside the standard Renegade and its Fiat 500X platform mate in Melfi, Italy, an FCA press release said. The automaker hopes to start building pre-production units in 2019, with a full market launch in early 2020.

The plug-in hybrid powertrain caps a handful of recent changes for the Renegade. For the 2019 model year, the B-segment SUV gets mildly revised styling and a reshuffled gasoline powertrain lineup. Europe will get a new 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine making 120 horsepower. U.S. buyers will have the option of a new 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 177 hp, alongside the existing 2.4-liter Tigershark four-banger.

The Renegade is the second Jeep confirmed to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain. FCA previously announced plans for a Wrangler PHEV that, like the Renegade, is expected to launch in 2020. FCA has already designated its Toledo Machining Plant to build certain components for the Wrangler's plug-in powertrain. That's fitting, given the Ohio city's decades-long association with the Jeep brand.

In its most recent five-year plan, FCA said it would launch 12 electrified powertrains (including mild hybrids, full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars) by 2022, with 30 different global models equipped with one or more of these systems. The plan was launched under former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, who passed away unexpectedly in July due to complications from surgery. His replacement, former Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley, is expected to continue implementing the plan.

FCA has a lot of ground to make up on electrification. Its only current electrified models are the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (actually a plug-in hybrid, despite the name), the Ram 1500 eTorque mild hybrid, and the Fiat 500e electric car. The 500e is built solely to comply with California's zero-emission vehicle mandate and was never a favorite of Marchionne, who complained of its unprofitability.

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