Jeep has confirmed plans to equip the new Grand Cherokee with a ZF-supplied eight-speed gearbox – and has also revealed it is investigating using a nine-speed ZF gearbox in its future models.
The new Grand Cherokee 3.0 V6 CRD that’s recently gone on sale in the UK is currently only available with a five-speed Mercedes-supplied automatic that’s been carried over from its forgettable predecessor.
The new eight-speed offering will be launched next year across the Grand Cherokee’s entire V6 and V8 engine range, with Jeep Europe chief Joe Veltri confirming that the gearbox could handle the torque outputs of all engines in the line-up.
The gearbox will help Jeep lower its CO2 emissions and it’s also available with hybrid applications, something Jeep is looking into, as disclosed to Autocar by CEO Mike Manley.
“Our approach to lowering CO2 is a deployment of lots of different technologies,” he said. “Hybrids, improved aerodynamics, more diesels, eight-speed gearboxes and nine-speed gearboxes for front-wheel-drive cars will all help us improve economy and CO2.”
Veltri was cautious about committing to a hybrid Jeep, however, pointing to disappointing sales of hybrids in the US. “Hybrid sales are down three to four per cent in the US and still only make up two per cent of the market. People are not seeing a return on their investment with fuel saving.”
An all-electric Jeep would be on-sale in 2012, confirmed Manley, with the Wrangler the most likely candidate for the Jeep EV after a concept version was shown at the 2009 Detroit motor show.
Manley also said early sales of the two-wheel drive Compass had been positive, and the firm could offer two-wheel drive across more of its models.
“The SUV market has moved on,” he said. “People want SUV attributes but not always four-wheel drive capability. In the past, everyone had to pay the weight, fuel economy and CO2 penalty for cars like the Compass just so those that needed to go off-road in it could.”
Manley added that each Jeep model range would get a special ‘Trail Rated’ version, designed especially for off-road use. This, he said, allows the firm to offer more fuel-efficient, road-biased Jeeps for customers who do not need off-road capabilities.