DaimlerChrysler's Jeep division unveiled the newest Jeep concept car today, the Jeep Commander 2 - a sequel to the original Commander that debuted earlier this year.
Jeep Commander 2 merges dynamic design with an advanced fuel cell powertrain in a luxury sport-utility vehicle that is virtually pollution-free while achieving double the fuel efficiency of a conventional SUV.
``Commander 2's predecessor, the Jeep Commander, took the Jeep pledge to 'Tread Lightly!' on the environment very seriously. Commander 2 vows to tread even lighter,'' said Rich Schaum, Executive Vice President - Product Development for DaimlerChrysler Corporation. ``The hybrid drive system integrates an on-board methanol reformer that produces near-zero emissions in one of North America's fastest growing market segments -- SUVs.''
With its trademark seven-slotted grille and characteristic trapezoidal wheel arches among other visual cues, Commander 2 is clearly a Jeep. But it incorporates the philosophy of Bauhaus design that inspired exterior designer Steve Won, and influenced the clean, precise and mechanical appearance of Commander 2. ``It still has true Jeep character, but it is also ultra-modern and sophisticated,'' Won said.
While Commander 2 duplicates the shape and design of the first Commander, the new-generation vehicle is powered by a completely reengineered fuel cell system. The fuel cell is now combined with dual front and rear electric motors and advanced batteries into a hybrid-electric fuel cell powertrain that represents further advancement in the development of ultra-clean, ultra- efficient transportation for the 21st century. Commander 2 has near-zero tailpipe emissions and improves the average fuel efficiency by up to 12 mpg (gasoline equivalent).
``With the increasing popularity of SUVs, we believe boosting the fuel efficiency of a larger vehicle explores an area that is of interest to our customers,'' said Bernard Robertson, Senior Vice President - Engineering Technologies and General Manager - Truck Operations.
Commander 2 runs on electricity generated by the fuel cell, which is fueled by hydrogen from an on-board methanol reformer. Methanol was chosen because it is easy to dispense, simpler to reform while producing lower emissions than a gasoline powered fuel cell, and eliminates the need for large hydrogen storage tanks in the vehicle.
Two AC induction motors, one for each axle, provide full-time, four-wheel drive. A nickel-metal-hydride battery provides supplemental energy during acceleration; while towing heavy payloads; and for cold starts, since fuel cell systems require warm up time. The battery captures energy normally lost during braking and also helps improve fuel efficiency.
To compensate for the additional weight and cost of the fuel cell system, Jeep designers incorporated DaimlerChrysler's unique injection-molded thermoplastic body technology, demonstrating the weight savings that could be achieved with injection molded plastic.
The plastic body technology, first shown in the fall of 1997 in the Composite Concept Vehicle (CCV) and more recently in the Dodge ESX3, saves up to 50 percent in body weight, 10 to 50 percent in manufacturing costs and provides near 100 percent recyclability. Using molded-in-color plastic allowed designers to embody a very machined, high-tech feel to the surface appearance, unlike the design restrictions with stamped metal.
Because of its lightweight body, Commander 2 weighs 5700 pounds, slightly more than typical full-size SUVs. This includes more than 2500 pounds for the hybrid-electric fuel cell powertrain.
The silver-bodied Commander 2's overall height of 69.4 inches is equivalent to the 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It stands 80 inches wide overall, more than seven inches wider than Grand Cherokee. This wider stance helps intensify drivers' sense of security and enabled designers to add three comfortable bucket seats in the rear, as well as extra storage space in the center console. The 180 degree convex side view mirrors eliminate blind spots and have wipers for better visibility during inclement weather. In addition, the tow hitch cover folds down and doubles as a step for ease in reaching the roof.
Functionality is a key component not only in Commander 2's exterior design, but also in its roomy interior. The driver ``Infotronic'' system performs as a mobile office with a removable toaster-style pop-up ``plug and play'' laptop computer docked in the center console. The system provides global positioning system (GPS) data and Internet for real-time weather and traffic information and directions, along with e-mail phone and vehicle diagnostic information. A liquid crystal display (LCD) screen in the instrument panel connects to the driver's laptop. The steering column houses a small microphone that allows the driver to access the mobile office via a ``user independent'' voice recognition system.
``By incorporating your personal laptop from either the home or the office in the 'plug and play' system, it is customized to fit your needs and can be regularly updated with the latest computer software,'' said Steve Buckley, Electronics Innovation Manager at DaimlerChrysler's Liberty & Technical Affairs.
``Also, you can keep your hands on the wheel and still get business done on the drive to and from the office by verbally sending commands to your computer,'' Buckley added. ``Commands such as sending e-mails, getting directions, reviewing traffic, checking vehicle systems and dialing phone numbers are easily done with voice commands.''
The instrument panel contains another unique feature that provides extra security: a tiny camera positioned to take a picture of the driver. If the vehicle is stolen, a picture of the thief is electronically sent to the authorities.
The instrument panel is further enhanced with chrome details and a brushed aluminum surface accented with light burl wood on both the panel and steering wheel. Sophisticated navy blue is the primary color of the interior and seats, complemented by cognac leather trim inserts.
Commander 2 offers advanced design and technologies that will meet customers' needs in a clean, efficient SUV that will address the environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Jeep® Commander 2 Preliminary Specifications DIMENSIONS Overall length 186" (4.72 m) Overall width 80" (2.03 m) Overall height 69.4" (1.76 m) Wheelbase 114" (2.9 m) Track, F 69" (1.75 m) Track, R 69" (1.75 m) Curb weight 5700 lbs (2590 kg) Tire, F & R 275/55R20 on 20x9 wheel POWERTRAIN Engine Methanol fuel cell Motor/transmission Dual traction electric motors (front and rear) Peak power 82 kW Maximum torque 176 lb-ft/239 Nm Battery pack 324V nickel-metal hydride Suspension, F Upper and lower control arms, unequal length gas shocks with coaxial springs Viper 4-piston floating calipers Vented disc brake rotors Suspension, R Upper and lower control arms, unequal length gas shocks with coaxial springs Viper 4-piston calipers Vented disc brake rotors Acceleration 13 seconds (0-60 mph/96 kph) Fuel tank capacity 10 gallons/40 Liters Range 120 miles/1902 Kilometers Fuel economy 24 mpg/10 Liters/100 Kilometers (estimated combined city/highway, gasoline equivalent) Emissions SULEV BODY/CHASSIS Architecture Body-on-frame 4-door sport-utility vehicle Material usage Aluminum/composite frame Carbon fiber body to simulate PET weight savings Cast aluminum wheels Special features 4-inch adjustable ride height in off-road position