Concept Cars

Jeep unveils Yuntu concept in Shanghai, seems unenthused about it

That's a shame, because it's genuinely pretty cool.

Jeep

It's strange when an automaker seems entirely unenthused with a new concept car, regardless of whether or not it previews a global product. Jeep's in that boat right now.

Jeep arrived at the Shanghai Motor Show with the Yuntu concept, a neat car that could very well preview the next generation of Jeep's design. Familiar touches abound, including its seven-slot grille and Renegade-ish silhouette. The rear end is a bit more flat than modern Jeeps, but it's surely a boon to interior space.

And speaking of the interior, it's a delight. Screens abound -- there's two, in fact, on the back of each seat. In keeping with most modern concepts, the whole dashboard is basically a giant screen, with redundant information and controls for the front passenger just under the airbag. A three-row configuration is yet another feather for the Yuntu's cap, since Jeep doesn't currently offer a three-row vehicle.

If the Yuntu comes to production, it would likely be built in China with Jeep's local manufacturing partner.

Jeep

"PHEV" badges on the exterior hint at a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which would be a first for Jeep and one of only a small handful of electrified offerings from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In the US, the only hybrid we're given is the Pacifica Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid minivan. There's definitely a market for a more efficient Jeep, although you wouldn't guess that based on how Fiat Chrysler's US arm is treating this car.

Sadly, it appears that Jeep is pretty unenthusiastic about the Yuntu's prospects outside the Chinese market. Every bit of text Jeep has issued strongly reiterated that this is for China only.

I think it's sort of funny. Fiat Chrysler is largely stuck in a loop, developing and selling vehicles that cater almost entirely to current US market tastes -- nearly all SUVs and trucks, many of which haven't been redesigned in a hot minute, like the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500. And FCA US is notoriously tight-lipped on its eco-friendly aspirations.

For something that could mean a great deal beyond the Chinese market, you'd think Jeep would want to give this thing a little more publicity.