Stellantis studying electric AWD for Jeep baby SUV (Jeep 526) – Report

It’s no news that Stellantis is working on a Jeep SUV to go below the Renegade. According to a new report from France’s L’Argus the company has begun studies on offering eAWD in the smallest Jeep electric SUV.

Following the merger, Stellantis has selected the PSA-Dongfeng co-developed CMP platform for the Jeep SUV. The CMP is available in a variant enabling electric powertrain application as well, called ‘eCMP.’

While the CMP platform brings cost advantages and full electrification capability to the table, it doesn’t allow four-wheel drive like the FCA-developed small-wide 4×4 platform that was expected to underpin the Jeep 526 previously. As a result, all CMP (and eCMP) models are strictly FWD. However, a true Jeep does not come without off-road capability, and so, Stellantis is developing a solution.

The report from L’Argus says that standard variants of the Jeep baby SUV will be available with Groupe PSA’s 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology and probably the 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engine.

Jeep 526 B-SUV CMP platform render
An unofficial rendition of the Jeep B-SUV. Image by Kleber Silva via Behance.

As for the electric version, the 100 kW (136 PS) motor of today’s eCMP models will be used to power the front wheels of the Jeep baby SUV. According to the French publication’s information, Stellantis is studying an eAWD variant with an additional rear-mounted motor.

Italy and India are likely leading the development of the Jeep 526 and its pure electric variant. “Our team is working on it (Jeep small SUV) day and night,” Partha Datta, President and Managing Director, FCA (India), told ETAuto in February. The Jeep baby SUV will go on sale in India after the launch of the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee (WL), he added. Datta revealed that the fifth-gen Grand Cherokee’s assembly at the Ranjangaon factory will begin by next year. So, the Jeep 526 should arrive only in 2022.

In February, Datta indicated that the Jeep baby SUV would ride on the Citroen CC21’s CMP platform, paving the way for an all-electric Jeep compact SUV by mid-decade. “The product architecture and feature content (of the Jeep 526) are being fine-tuned because of the recent developments,” Datta told Autocar India.

By “the recent developments” Datta was referring to the merger of FCA and Groupe PSA into Stellantis. The merger at the global level was completed in the middle of January.

A report from economictimes.indiatimes.com in October 2020 read that a Citroen micro-SUV codenamed the Citroen eCC21 will be introduced in 2022. FCA and Groupe PSA, the respective parent companies of Jeep and Citroen, are closer than ever having merged and formed Stellantis with a 50:50 ownership structure. The alliance will focus on platform and component sharing, especially in the low-cost segments where the French conglomerate has an upper hand.

On the baby Jeep migrating to the eCMP

The Jeep 526 project was given the green signal way before the merger with Groupe PSA, back in the days of Sergio Marchionne’s leadership. The idea of a baby Jeep has been floating since 2012, initially speculated as riding on the Fiat Panda platform, one that was shortly thereafter rejected.

The plan then was to build it on FCA’s small-wide 4×4 architecture that underpins SUVs up to the size class of a Jeep Compass, with heavy revisions for the downsizing. In October 2020, a report from quattroruoute.it (via clubalfa.it) said that FCA is reviewing the SUV project and considering the switch to Groupe PSA’s CMP platform.

In August 2020, torino.corriere.it reported that FCA halted the development of its small car portfolio and plans to switch to a Groupe PSA platform. From the letter sent out to suppliers, it had discontinued its B-segment platform project.

Jeep India future models
Unlike the small-wide 4×4 architecture, CMP can support a pure electric powertrain, but only the former allows a 4WD drivetrain layout which throws a curve ball.

The majority of the B-segment cars/small cars/sub-compact cars from FCA brands will be based on Groupe PSA’s CMP platform. Initially, it was thought that this may have applied to only the B-segment vehicles in Europe, as the letter specified Italian and Polish subsidiaries as the senders. FCA manufactures the Fiat Panda, Fiat 500X, Fiat 500L and the Jeep Renegade in these countries all of which are nearing the end of the lifecycle. However, it looks like even new projects like the Jeep 526 could be put on the CMP/eCMP.

eCMP is a strict two-wheel drive platform, and that would be an issue for customers in Europe and other regions using such small SUVs in snowy conditions and also for leisure purposes like mountaineering and hiking. Moreover, for Jeep purists it would be impossible to fathom a vehicle without offroad capability bearing the seven-slot grille.

A number of EVs based on eCMP already exist in Europe, such as Opel Corsa-e, Opel Mokka-e, Peugeot e-208, Peugeot e-2008, Citroen e-C4, and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. According to The Economic Times report, key parts of the Citroen eCC21 EV from India would be exported to Europe.