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Jeep will launch its first all-electric SUV for Europe, the "Avenger", next year, CEO Christian Meunier told AFP on Thursday, as its parent company Stellantis moves away from fossil fuel vehicles.
"We have very strong DNA -- electrification is a means of reinforcing it," the French director of the US automaker told AFP as the company presented its first electric models to the media.
Jeep plans to sell only electric vehicles in Europe by 2030 under the Dare Forward plans of its parent company, Stellantis, a US-European group whose other brands include Peugeot, Fiat, Chrysler and Alfa Romeo.
Battery electric vehicles will account for half of Stellantis car sales in the United States by the end of the decade.
The small and rugged Avenger has a range of 400 kilometres (250 miles) per charge.
Compared with petrol models it will be a "little heavier given its batteries, but the acceleration and the fun will be there," Meunier said.
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Another electric model adding to the Jeep line-up is the boxier, more off road-orientated "Recon", replete with power-sliding roof and removable doors.
Recon will be launched in North America in 2024.
Jeep is also releasing an electric variant of its largest sport-utility vehicle, the 600-horsepower Wagoneer S, with a range of 600 kilometres.
Made in Poland
The Avenger is slated to debut at the Paris Motor Show on October 17 and appear in showrooms from the first half of next year.
Production is due to begin in Tychy, Poland, in November at the Stellantis factory which rolls out the Fiat 500.
"We are designing and developing the most capable and sustainable Jeep SUVs to date, on our path to becoming the leading zero-emission SUV brand in the world," said Meunier.
"Electrification is great for our brand, making it even more capable, exciting, sustainable and fun," he said.
The electric line-up aims to help Jeep gain a bigger market share in Europe, as North America accounts for 60 percent of its sales.
"The all-new Avenger will offer Jeep brand capability that is rightsized for the European market," said Antonella Bruno, head of Jeep Europe at Stellantis.
It "will appeal to a growing set of customers who are looking for a capable, compact, modern and all-electric Jeep brand alternative to the current players."
Meunier said the new models would enable the producer to grow its long-term profile similarly to its recent inroads in Italy, home to one of the group's founders, Fiat, and where Jeep assembles the Renegade and Compass SUV models.
It has carved out a four-percent market share in Italy.
In contrast, it requires a rethink in China following the collapse of a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC).
Globally, Meunier said that "two or three years ago, when we were talking about electrification that was unimaginable for Jeep fans".
But today 25 percent of Wrangler sales are plug-in hybrids, he said.
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