Future Cars

Jeep's Melfi, Italy plant tools up for Renegade plug-in hybrid

The Renegade PHEV should end up in public hands in early 2020.

It's unclear if the Renegade's other plants in Brazil and China will also produce the plug-in hybrid.

Jeep

Building a car is no small feat, which is why automakers start prepping their factories years in advance. Even though we might not drive it for quite some time, Jeep's in the process of preparing for a dose of electrification.

Jeep announced on Monday that it has begun tooling its plant in Melfi, Italy to build a plug-in hybrid variant of the Jeep Renegade compact SUV. Preproduction prototypes will start rolling off the line in 2019, while the Renegade PHEV itself is slated for a market launch in early 2020.

According to Fiat Chrysler's press release, the Jeep Renegade PHEV will be the automaker's third electrified vehicle in recent years, following the Pacifica Hybrid PHEV and the Ram 1500 eTorque mild hybrid. FCA chief Mike Manley said at a meeting in June that FCA will bring eight different plug-in hybrids to the US by 2021, including a PHEV variant of the venerable Wrangler.

That doesn't mean Jeep has stopped updating the current Renegade. In fact, Jeep threw a number of upgrades at the 2019 Renegade in the US. The exterior packs a fresher fascia with new taillights and new wheel designs, while the interior gets upgraded instrument-cluster graphics. The Renegade's 1.4-liter turbo I4 gas engine has been dropped in favor of a new 1.3-liter turbo I4 that makes 177 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 17 and 16, respectively, over the outgoing engine.