It would take an almost Paleolithic mindset for an automaker not to prioritize sustainability when evolving their lineup. Fortunately, there is no single path that leads to the creation of such offerings. As a result, any automaker’s efforts could reflect a blended approach consisting of any combination of powertrain enhancements, alternative fuels, and/or weight reduction.
But at what point do these efforts spit in the face of an automaker’s legacy? Therein lies the challenge faced by their engineers and designers, to aggressively pursue more sustainable offerings without losing any attributes linked intrinsically to the brand.
So what should we expect when current auto news hints at Fiat-Chrysler’s intention of creating yet another Jeep offering with a reduced footprint? Emulating European minicars certainly speaks to a more evolved mindset towards ecologically-responsible vehicles, but is a vehicle defined solely by its badging? In other words, just because you call it a ‘Jeep’, does it really count as one?
For example, I work with a Jeep guy. Loyal to the core, he finds great joy in mocking the likes of the subcompact Renegade (even in a 4×4 trim). To him, it’s simply not a Jeep. So, when it comes to Jeep purists worldwide, does FCA expect actual enthusiasm regarding their development of a ‘Baby Jeep’ that’s even smaller and potentially less dynamic? What would such a Jeep look like, and how would it actually perform?
While we can’t make any assumptions as to how it would look, all speculation indicates that it would be produced on the same platform as the 4×4 Fiat Panda, seen here:
It’ll most likely be mid-year before FCA shares their long-term plans for this endeavor but one thing seems certain: the Baby Jeep is unlikely to make an American appearance anytime soon. Our ‘bigger is better’ mentality may be viewed as behind-the-times ecologically, but it is certainly applicable to Jeep’s domestic customer base.
So, sleep easy, Jeepers…