Jeep says the recently revealed Recon and Wagoneer S electric SUVs are coming to Australia, but the Avenger EV has yet to be locked in despite being engineered for right-hand drive.
The rugged-looking Recon EV – designed to be trail rated – is slated to enter US production in 2024, ditto the sleeker-looking Wagoneer S. Both will use the Stellantis ‘STLA Large’ EV architecture designed around the needs of electric vehicles.
“The Recon and the Wagoneer S… are secured for Australia,” Jeep CEO Christian Meunier told CarExpert in Detroit this week, saying he’d noticed the growth in electrification here.
“Obviously Australia was very much behind two, three years ago [with] electrification. It was not even a question… and when I talked to the local team, it was ‘electrification, not really interesting’.
“And I kept questioning, questioning, questioning, and look at what happened in the meantime. And we see New Zealand is going a hundred per cent full speed ahead. And Australia is catching up. Australia’s going to get there.”
Mr Meunier did not disclose local timing, but we’d suggest 2025 would be a good bet given the US will in all likelihood be prioritised with the initial production runs.
Jeep recently said it wanted 50 per cent of sales in the US and 100 per cent of sales in Europe to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030.
There is another Jeep EV in the works, the Avenger, which is more focused on Europe than the other pair. This small SUV premieres in Paris this October and will hit showrooms on that continent in early 2023, however Australia appears somewhere down the list.
“Avenger is going to the UK, it’s going to Japan, and we’re looking at maybe Australia if there’s a market for it,” Mr Meunier added.
Mr Meunier said the vast majority of future Jeep models have been engineered for right-hand drive, and has committed to the Australian market and RHD production in general.
Currently, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are the only Jeep model lines not available in right-hand drive, though there are some variants of other products that are left-hand drive only.
This includes the V8-powered Wrangler 392, plus the plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe. Mr Meunier says he pushed hard for a right-hand drive Wrangler 4xe but the business case didn’t stack up, though he said this isn’t necessarily the end of discussion.
Before Jeep rolls out its first EVs in Australia, it’ll introduce its first plug-in hybrid, the Grand Cherokee 4xe, in early 2023. Like the electrified Wrangler, 4xe versions of the Compass and Renegade aren’t sold here, leaving Australia with a much smaller range of PHEVs.
The most adventurous member of Jeep’s incoming electric range is the Recon, a rugged off-roader that’ll enter production in North America in 2024.
The Recon has been designed exclusively as an EV, but has also been designed to tackle the Rubicon Trail and therefore wear Jeep’s Trail-Rated badge.
To that end, it includes e-locker axle technology, under-body protection, tow hooks, off-road tyres, and Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction management system.
Like the Wrangler and Gladiator, the doors and glass can be removed, and there’s also a one-touch folding roof.
Jeep also says it’ll feature detailed travel guides of notable off-road trails in its latest generation Uconnect infotainment system.
The Recon wears its spare wheel on the tailgate like a Wrangler, while there are flared wheel arches and a closed-off version of Jeep’s trademark seven-slot grille, with the slots featuring illuminated borders.
While the Recon is Jeep’s rugged EV equivalent to the Wrangler (there might be a Wrangler EV too, as previewed by this), don’t expect a Recon ute to give buyers an electric alternative to the Gladiator.
“I don’t see the benefits of doing a pickup on the Recon when we have a Gladiator that is doing very well,” said Mr Meunier, adding the Gladiator will be electrified. That suggests it should receive the plug-in hybrid powertrain of the related Wrangler 4xe.
The Wagoneer S – a placeholder name – is a mid-sized premium electric SUV though, despite its dramatically different styling, it shares its STLA Large EV underpinnings with the Recon.
It’s also completely unrelated to the current Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, which offer petrol and soon plug-in hybrid powertrains and are related to the Ram 1500.
As with the Recon, it will enter production in North America in 2024. It will be part of a new Wagoneer sub-brand that’ll be a “premium extension” of the Jeep brand.
Jeep says it’s targeting a range of 644km and a 0-60mph (0-96km/h) time of around 3.5 seconds, with the Wagoneer S to produce 447kW of power.
The company says it’ll display the vehicle to the public next year, and offer it in major markets around the world including Europe.
Like the Recon, it features an illuminated seven-slot grille, but it features a different overall shape and design – much like the car itself.
Where the Recon is boxy and upright, the Wagoneer S is sleeker with a more tapered roofline. There are squared-off wheel arches, and a roof-mounted spoiler and full-width light bar down back.
Set for an early 2023 launch in Europe, Jeep is calling the Avenger an A/B-segment SUV, which therefore slots it in underneath the B-segment Renegade. It will be built in Tychy, Poland.
Jeep is targeting 400km of range from the Avenger, which will be officially revealed at the Paris motor show on October 17.
Stellantis has been playing musical nameplates. Much as the Dodge Hornet borrows an old AMC nameplate, the new Jeep crossover borrows a nameplate from Dodge: Avenger.
Instead of wearing the rumoured Jeepster nameplate, one from the brand’s back catalogue, it’ll wear a nameplate used from the 1990s into the 2010s on mid-sized Dodge sedan and coupe models.