The difference between this year and previous year’s offerings in the environmentally-friendly segment is that electric and hybrid cars are finally being styled with a little personality and outfitted with bit on oomph that makes them more than just accessories for the Sierra Club set.
The 2008 Jeep Renegade concept is a perfect example of this new trend. About the size of a Mini Cooper, the Renegade is the smallest off-road vehicle ever produced by Jeep, and is meant to target people who want to enjoy their 4 x 4 action with a clean ecological conscious.
To this end, Chrysler is offering several different engine options, all of them incorporating an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that is recharged by either a Bluetec diesel or a conventional gas engine when the charge drops below a certain level.
The electric motor makes 268 horsepower with the diesel adding another 110, impressive numbers for such a small vehicle. Jeep claims that 40 miles per charge is possible, and that in combination with the 1.5 liter diesel, the total range is 400 miles – more than enough to get you lost in the woods – and making fuel mileage approximately 110 miles per gallon.
The Jeep Renegade looks more like a dune buggy than a road-going car, with a chopped windshield, carved slots in the doors and no real roof.
It’s curves and aggressive stance suggest a futuristic Mars rover feel, and Jeep claims that the open interior makes it easy to hose out after a deep mud encounter. Of course, one could also argue that if the Renegade had a roof and the doors didn’t have holes in them there would be no need for a hose, but that is beside the point.
Will the Renegade ever be produced? It’s unlikely there is a large enough market for such a specialized vehicle, but given the range of electric vehicles shown by Chrysler at the show, it is almost certain that these technologies will begin to trickle down into more realistic products in the near future.