Jeep electric SUV (Jeep 516) enters production in Feb 2023 [Update]

It’s no news that Stellantis is developing a Jeep SUV (Jeep 516) to hunt in the segment below the Renegade. Stellantis revealed on 3 August 2021 that it plans to launch the first Jeep EV in H1 2023 (January-June 2023). In all likeliness, this model would be the Jeep 516 electric SUV. The first Jeep EV would be one of the 11 pure electric vehicles Stellantis releases in the market by June 2023. Given the H1 2023 release date, road-testing could begin by early 2022.

According to a report from Automotive News Europe, Stellantis plans to produce the small Jeep SUV at Fiat’s Tychy (Poland) factory in November 2022. Production would start with a gasoline engine, whereas the full-electric version will trail it in February 2023, and finally a mild-hybrid version in January 2024, reports Automotive News. The reported SOP date supports our speculation that this is the Jeep EV Stellantis plans to launch in H1 2023.

Stellantis EV roadmap
Stellantis plans to launch 11 EVs by June 2023, and the Jeep 516 EV should be one of them. Image Source: Stellantis

BYD could provide its ‘Blade’ battery to the Jeep electric SUV, as the report states that the supplier would switch from CATL to BYD in July 2023. Stellantis has set an annual production target of 300,000 units for three new crossover/SUV models from Fiat, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo, and it sees the Jeep 516 accounting for a little over a third of the volume.

Jeep 516 design

The teaser (featured image) Jeep revealed at the Stellantis EV Day 2021 provides a good idea about the Jeep 516’s city-sized exterior. Similar to the Renegade, the smallest Jeep to-be builds on the Wrangler’s powerful stance with a rugged body form and classical SUV proportions. We spot a squarish nose, high and flat bonnet, straight roofline, and an upright tail section. It’s not visible in the teaser, but expect the smallest Jeep with short overhangs, trapezoidal wheel arches, ample ground clearance and a large greenhouse, too. There are some basic attributes Jeep would want every single model to have, as design chief Mark Allen explained at a virtual roundtable in July:

Some of the design elements we talk about in the vehicle, and it doesn’t matter which Jeep model we are working on, these are the things that are in our mind – the short front overhang, the approach angle, the breakover angle, rear overhang very tight, all of these things we try to bake into every model we do. Outward visibility is something you’ll be hearing from me a lot of. I’m just pushing that we move more and more open outward visibility on everything we do. Wheel position and jounce is important for us, no matter the model.

Mark Allen, Head of Design, Jeep, on the ingredients that make a Jeep

Jeep electric SUV to ride on the e-CMP platform

In March, a report from France’s L’Argus had said that Stellantis had 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 called ‘eCMP,’ which could be pared-down to achieve the cost target.

While the CMP platform brings cost advantages and full electrification capability to the table, it doesn’t allow a four-wheel drive like the FCA-developed small-wide 4×4 platform that was expected to underpin the Jeep 516 previously.

However, a true Jeep does not come without off-road capability, and Stellantis is developing a solution. 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 working on the eAWD variant with an additional rear-mounted motor. The L’Argus report stated that standard variants of the Jeep baby SUV would be available with Groupe PSA’s 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology.

Jeep 526 B-SUV CMP platform render
The Jeep 516 is set to become the brand’s new entry-level model next year. Pictured is an unofficial rendition of the Jeep B-SUV. Image by Kleber Silva via Behance.

Italy and India are likely leading the development of the Jeep 516 and its pure electric variant. “Our team is working on it (Jeep small SUV) day and night,” Partha Datta, President & Managing Director, FCA (India), told ETAuto in February. In February, Datta strongly 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 516) 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 with an electric powertrain 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 the upper hand. Expect to see more than a few commonalities in the small car projects.

On the baby Jeep migrating to the eCMP

The Jeep entry SUV project was given the green signal long before the merger with Groupe PSA, back during Sergio Marchionne’s tenure. The plan 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. By October 2020, the plan was losing steam, as a report from quattroruoute.it (via clubalfa.it) said that FCA was reviewing the SUV project and switching to Groupe PSA’s CMP platform.

It came as no surprise as in August 2020, torino.corriere.it reported that FCA halted the development of its small car portfolio and planned to switch to a Groupe PSA platform. From the letter sent out to suppliers, it had discontinued its B-segment platform project.

B-segment cars/small cars/sub-compact cars from FCA brands henceforth will be based on PSA’s CMP platform, until the STLA Small is ready for deployment. Initially, it was thought that this might 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.

Several EVs based on eCMP already exist in Europe, such as Opel Mokka-e, Peugeot e-2008, Citroen e-C4, and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.

Jeep electrification strategy

By 2025, Jeep plans to offer a zero-emission, fully electric model in every single SUV segment. Christian Meunier, the company’s CEO, revealed at the Stellantis EV Day 2021. The company aims to turn 70% of its annual sales by then to electrified models. Even the biggest Jeeps, not excluding the flagship Grand Wagoneer, will go all-electric by 2025.

Featured Image Source: Stellantis