Hybrid is a word that gets thrown around a lot lately. It's a cup half full or half empty. If you have a vehicle that's gas, then that's one way, and the other side of the coin is a vehicle that's all electric. But to combine the two? What is Jeep thinking about? Will it happen on a Jeep
Wrangler? Or maybe on something smaller, like the new Renegade, or other small compact Jeep in the future? Is it practical? Wranglers are tight for room as it is. If you add a large battery and an electric motor coupled to the gas one, is that going to take up valuable space? The word Hybrid is the new "hot" word to throw around when talking cars. It's just a vehicle (or machine) working off two kind of power systems. It's not even a new idea. Nuclear submarines are a hybrid. They use nuclear power to create steam, to create power (a steam powered submarine - how about that). And the diesel locomotive you saw at the train crossing piking down the track? Electric powered. The diesel engine couples to a generator to make electrical energy, to power the train. So it's not fair to call this technology, or even the term, something that's really new. Now, if a Jeep uses an electric motor, even if it's auxiliary power, that could be a plus. First of all, electric motors make crazy amounts of torque. Instantly. (Jump over to NEDRA.com to find out more on electric power). For rock crawling, that torque can come in handy, especially with 4WD, and lockers will make it even better. But why might Jeep hesitate to go hybrid? It's never really been about the motors so much, as it is about the batteries. Battery technology is slow changing, and they aren't too much different than they were 100 years ago (Ferdinand Porsche made an electric car way back in 1898). Electric vehicles work, but their Achilles heal is the battery. Sure, the batteries of today hold a charge longer, and are chemically a little different, but they're still quite large, cumbersome, and not entirely environmentally friendly. Problems that still need to be overcome. On a Jeep, you don't want to be deep in the jungle, or up on a mountain when the battery goes dead. Range is a serious concern on a Jeep. Getting a few gallons of fuel is one thing, but how do you recharge in the middle of no where? Or how to do you swap out a 100lb battery? Is the gas engine on the hybrid enough to get you back on the trail and get you home? So what is Jeep really saying with their talk? Well, first, it's great PR. It makes good press, and brings the name Jeep to the front of the news spectrum, even though, they may never plan on ever making such a thing. The word "hybrid" is a buzz word. It's good to throw around once in a while. (Hybrid toasters, hybrid lawn mowers ... you see it coming). Will we get a hybrid Jeep? in 2018? Will it be an option? There's nothing set in concrete yet. We are more likely to get an 8-speed gearbox, carbon fiber and aluminum parts (probably for the body), and any number of technical advances. 2018 is still 3 years away, so anything can happen from now till then. There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh before Jeep makes a decision, and luckily, they have the three year span to test the waters, get some feedback from Jeep owners, and poke the bear a bit to see what resistance they might get.