At this week's launch of the 2017 Jeep Compass in the United States, it was made clear to Australian journalists that Jeep won't be releasing a hybrid - or alternative powertrain - version of its small SUV anytime soon.
“Could we do it in the future? Sure," Jim Lyijynen, Chief Engineer for Jeep Compass told the assembled Australian media. "Right now though, the focus has been to make this global platform successful.”
Lyijynen explained that he didn’t want to speculate too far into the future but reiterated that, right now, "there are no plans for a hybrid Compass."
“The first question is, what would the consumer of the Compass Hybrid want?” Lyijynen said. “If we ever did go down that path, that’s where we would start. There are many different ways to make a hybrid and we would have to work through all those options and that process. In other words, once we’d worked out the want, then we'd have to look at the technical ways of achieving that.”
It seems then, that despite competitors openly working on hybrid power trains, Jeep isn’t looking at that same technology, or certainly isn’t willing to commit to it publicly. Likewise larger engines, which aren't something the engineers are losing too much sleep over, when asked the question.
“Right now the 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 doesn’t package and we think the engines that best meet the customer requirements are the engines we have available,” Lyijynen said. “Currently it does not package, and whether it could package or not is something we could look at in the future. That’s something we may decide to look at.”
Lyijynen was keen to emphasise the fact that modern technology doesn’t require larger engines in small body styles, such is the efficiency and performance to be had from modern, small capacity engines.
“There’s still the perception customers have that more cylinders or larger capacity equals more power and better performance,” he said. “The industry has proven that performance does not necessarily equal the number of cylinders.”
Pressed on whether the Compass could be ‘stretched’ to suit a seven-seat platform, Lyijynen was also a little reticent to commit to any future development plans. “This is as far as we’ve taken the platform so far,” he said.
“We’re studying whether or not it can be stretched further, but in stretching it further, as you design components, there are some components that you can easily stretch and some you can’t. In a lot of respects from an engineering standpoint, making things larger is easier than making them smaller.”
Lyijynen explained that Jeep would look at whether it could optimise an existing platform to suit a certain idea, or go to an all-new platform. “I’d have to say that it is unlikely that we would stretch this platform to a seven-seat layout,” he said. It could stretch that far, but there’s a lot more to consider than whether it can or can’t.”