NBC News is reporting on some of Jeep's future prospects after a recent interview with the Wrangler's Chief Engineer, Tony Petit. The government's relentless attempt to legislate the laws of physics mandates a new Corporate Average Fuel Economy number of 54.5mpg by the 2025, so a big part of the Wrangler's advancement will center on increasing fuel efficiency.
Jeep loyalists are understandably concerned with what this means for their specialized, iconic Jeeps and the capabilities for which they buy their Wranglers. Thankfully, the future sounds bright; the best indication is this quote from the interview:
Does that mean vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler, an off-roader that traces its roots to the original World War II Army Jeep, will turn into a glorified economy car? No way, says Wrangler chief engineer Tony Petit.We're all hoping and praying that strong solid axles front and rear remain the core component around which the rest of the Jeep is designed!
“We will not water down our icon,” pledged the man who will oversee development of the next generation Wrangler in coming years. So that means it will not be forced into becoming a “Jeep-styled” economy car, but will retain the genuine off-road capability the brand’s enthusiasts expect.
Jeep’s regular benchmark is the vehicle’s ability to traverse The Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe, Calif., so if the future greener Wrangler achieves that, fans should be satisfied.
As technology continues to advance, smaller, more fuel-efficient engines are better able to provide the horsepower and torque necessary to meet consumer demand and engineering requirements. As mentioned elsewhere in the interview, a turbodiesel would be the perfect solution if it wasn't for the EPA's (and particular the CARB's) overly demanding requirements that require prohibitively expensive emissions control equipment that not only add thousands to a vehicle's bottom line, but also detract from the power, fuel efficiency, and reliability of the engine while increasing operating costs, maintenance requirements, and service/repair intervals. Until the government restrains their policies that stifle innovation in diesel technology, a direct-injected and turbocharged Multiair 4-cylinder gasoline engine is the most likely candidate, with a Pentastar-family V6 likely to continue to be optional.
The following video is Mr. Petit's press introduction a year ago to the 2012 Jeep Wrangler's midcycle update: