What is it?
This is Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid. And, much as traditionalists might argue that plug-in hybrid power has about as much of a place in a Jeep as a rudder does on a writing desk, we can all appreciate why it exists.
Jeep’s European sales have hit triple-digit percentage growth several times over the past 10 years; but now, if it wants to maintain that growth and consolidate its position on our side of the pond, it must at once drive the carbon emissions of its fleet of new cars down - and quickly - while driving its penetration of the fleet car market up.
With the emissions testing regime and regional car taxation rules both set as they are, plug-in hybrid Jeeps are the way to do both; and there will be a PHEV version of both the Compass and, yes, even the Wrangler in the not-too-distant future.
It does seem particularly strange to use the same old themes to try to distinguish these cars that Jeep has always relied on; but what else can they do? You know the ones: lifestyle-enabling freedom from the normal bounds of car ownership, and the peerless off-road ability to escape from the ordinary. I can see how that stuff might sell a Wrangler to a private buyer.
But when you’re after a fleet customer whose other options are a Vauxhall Grandland X and a Ford Kuga, who’s mainly going to be driving to meetings rather than up mountains, does it really work? I mean, isn’t the idea that you might go weekend adventuring in your company car, like they do in those Jeep brochures, just a tiny bit ridiculous?
You might a bit; or you might just like the idea of it. But it’d certainly be an awkward Sunday-evening phone call to the boss, I dare say. “What’s that, Perkins? Your company car has just been dragged out by the tide into the Severn Estuary? Didn’t you roll the last one down the side of Scafell Pike? How funny. Yes, of course you’re fired. Good luck getting home.”
You might well point out, and quite reasonably, that selling an electrified Renegade in such a way is no more laughable than the way any other Renegade has been sold; or how so many other cars have been idealised in glossy promotional material for eons. And Jeep would reply that Renegade owners really do take their cars off road, of course. But somehow I doubt very many of them really do.