DaimlerChrysler AG is experimenting with its Toledo-born Jeep brand to give the growing sport-utility-vehicle market an offering that would be kinder to the environment yet retain a tradition of ruggedness.
The 80-inch-wide Commander is more than seven inches broader than the Grand Cherokee, its largest Jeep sibling, and it uses a fuel cell to turn gasoline into electricity, increasing fuel efficiency by 50 per cent and drastically decreasing emissions.
It is one of four concept vehicles from former Chrysler Corp. brands that will be displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens next weekend.
Most automakers are working with smaller vehicles to advance fuel-saving and emission-controlling technology, but the Jeep Commander project was chosen because sport utilities and trucks need the most help, said Tom Moore, vice president of advanced technology at DaimlerChrysler.
"We think there's a place for this kind of technology in the heart of the market," he said.
The vehicle's technology is more than 10 years away being converted into production models. But the concept vehicle is another indication that the Jeep nameplate will keep its commanding place in the lineup of Germany's DaimlerChrysler, a recent merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz AG. This month's auto show at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, opening Saturday and ending Jan. 18, will be the Motor City's public debut of the world's fifth largest automaker.
"It's a valuable nameplate, and I don't see why they'd want to diminish that in any way," Carl Heffernan, of Bowling Green (Ohio) Lincoln Mercury Jeep Eagle, Inc., said of Jeep.
The merger should give Jeep engineers and designers a boost with the Commander concept because the former Daimler-Benz was a leader in fuel and emission research, said Michael Robinet, managing director of CSM Forecasting, Inc., in Farmington Hills, Mich.
Jeeps are likely to get diesel engines sooner as a result of the merger, said Greg Kagay, an analyst with
Stay tuned as we still have more pictures and info from the Jeep Commander...