Jeep backflips on electric plans, adds petrol version of new electric car in more countries
Jeep’s first electric car will now be available with petrol power in more European countries as demand for electric cars reportedly stalls.
US off-road specialist Jeep has done a U-turn on plans to sell its latest car with electric power only in Germany, France and the UK – and added a petrol-powered version – as sales of small electric vehicles stall in Europe.
The Jeep Avenger city SUV – not currently planned for Australia – was intended to be sold in most of Europe exclusively with electric power, and only offer the option of a petrol version in Italy, Spain and Poland where electric-car sales are slower.
However high demand for petrol Avengers in countries where it is not sold – through examples imported from other markets – and a slowdown in electric-car sales have prompted Jeep to expand the petrol model to Germany, France and the UK.
The significant turnaround follows cuts to electric-car production by Volkswagen last month due to demand running 30 per cent lower than the German car giant’s planned production.
Jeep Europe CEO Eric Laforge reportedly told industry journal Automotive News Europe the expansion of petrol Avenger sales is “pragmatic”, and intended to prevent Jeep showrooms losing sales to imported vehicles.
The US car maker claims the decision has no impact on its plan to go electric-only, and end sales of petrol vehicles in Europe in 2030.
Data published by Automotive News Europe shows sales of electric models in the “small SUV” category in Europe has dropped from 3 to 2 per cent so far this year, compared to last year.
Dataforce figures cited by the publication shows sales of small electric SUVs have risen by 9.2 per cent this year compared to last year – but sales of all small SUVs have increased by 17 per cent, irrespective of power type.
Over the first five months of 2023, Jeep has reported 7214 Avenger SUVs as sold so far this year – 87 per cent of which were petrol-powered (6252 petrol vs 962 electric).
According to Automotive News Europe, the US off-road specialist claims this statistic is “misleading” as over this period the vehicle was only available in Italy and Spain, where the petrol version is available and electric cars are not as popular due to less developed charging infrastructure, plus France.
However it could also be seen as most representative of demand for the Jeep Avenger petrol in the markets where it is available.
About three-quarters of Jeep Avenger sales to date have been in Italy, according to Automotive News Europe.
The petrol Avenger is forecast to account for “a few thousand” sales each year in Germany, France and the UK, according to Jeep Europe boss Eric Laforge, where they will be sold in “limited numbers”.
The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine will be offered in a single model grade across most of Europe, the Altitude, priced from €27,000 ($AU44,500) in Germany – €10,000 ($AU16,500) less than the cheapest electric version, and €15,000 ($AU25,000) less than the electric Altitude.
The base price for the petrol Avenger will be the same in all countries – before taxes – to “disincentivise cross-border sales,” according to the publication.
Toyota has been the most vocal of the world’s largest car makers in expressing its belief to maintain a choice of propulsion types – petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric and hydrogen – rather than going all-in on electric power when many buyers may not be ready to make the switch.
“When we look worldwide, there are about 1 billion people who will be among our customer base that do not have enough charging infrastructure in place,” Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda reportedly said in a recent interview cited by Automotive News Europe.
“Therefore, if we say that BEVs are the only option that we should pursue, what will happen to these people who do not have enough infrastructure?”
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