The battery-electric version of the Jeep Avenger compact SUV stands out from the crowd because of its looks, although its technology is mainstream.
Parent company Stellantis is planning to introduce 37 new battery electric vehicles (BEV) in Europe over the next two years to close the gap with leader Volkswagen and second-placed Tesla.
Stellantis has said 50% of its sedans, SUVs and light truck sales in the U.S. will be electric by 2030, and 100% in Europe.
Meanwhile the Avenger’s head-turning looks make an instant case for attention, but its technical prowess as an electric vehicle is more middle-of-the-road. Americans taking a fancy to this cute “ute” are out of luck. The Avenger was designed in Italy and made in Tychy, Poland for the European market.
There’s not only competition from little electric SUVs like the Kia Niro, Hyundai Kona, Volvo EX30, BYD Atto3, and Smart #1, but there are rivals a bit closer to home in the Stellantis stable. These include the Fiat 600e, Opel Mokka and Peugeot 2008e.
Jeep is now one of the many Stellantis mass-market brands, which include Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall, resulting from the merger in 2021 of Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot-Citroen. Other brands include premium wannabes Alfa Romeo and DS, and the iconic Italian luxury-sports car maker Maserati.
Stellantis is now the second-biggest manufacturer in the European Union defined by sales. In the first nine months of 2023 it sold 1.5 million cars and SUVs for a market share of 18.4%, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. Volkswagen leads with 2.1 million (26.2%). Renault is third with 860,000 (10.8%).
Jeep is having a good year, with sales up 26.6% in the first nine months to 90,000, compared with the same period last year. Its leading product is the Renegade with 34,200, followed by the Compass (33,400), and Avenger (23,900, including internal combustion engine versions), according to market analysts Dataforce of Germany, which says 30% are electric.
“The Avenger will be pivotal for Jeep’s 2024 performance (in Europe),” Dataforce analyst Benjamin Kibies said in an email exchange.
“The Avenger has a very healthy customer base. 59% are sold to retail customers, 22% are company cars. That leaves only 19% in pre-registrations and Rent-A-Car business where margins are smaller. To put that into context, Stellantis Group registered 30% of their cars as tactical registrations and only 32% in the retail channel,” Kibies said.
Stellantis has come late to the electric revolution, but that’s probably no bad thing as leaders like Volkswagen find they’ve got a bit ahead of the market and are having to scale back ambitions, at least temporarily.
Jamel Taganza, vice president of French auto consultants Inovev, said Stellantis is treading carefully in the electric car market.
“The strategy of Stellantis in EVs so far is pretty conservative, meaning that they adapt to EV current platforms formerly developed for thermal cars,” Taganza said in an email exchange.
“Among the Stellantis group, the strategy is to optimize the use of the same platform and to adapt them on different brands. There is no technological differentiation between models of the same segments. It means consequently that some models are competing each other’s on the same markets,” Taganza said.
Dataforce’s Kibies said Stellantis is number three in Europe for electric cars and SUVs with 197,000 sales in the first nine months, behind Tesla (273,000) and the leader VW and all its brands (326,000).
“Within the next 2 years, Stellantis will introduce 37 new EV models across all their brands. The range is going from the affordable Citroen e-C3 to an electric version in the Maserati portfolio and they are also electrifying their complete portfolio of commercial vehicles. With that strategy, they can serve all customer groups and will be without competition when it comes to affordable EVs,” Kibies said.
“From a technical point of view, there will also be an interesting change from shared ICE/EV platforms to pure EV-specific platforms. In theory, this will help to bring down production costs, but this can only be successful with economies of scale. So the biggest challenge for Stellantis will be to use as many shared parts as possible between the wide range of models,” he said.
I drove the Jeep Avenger Summit for about 350 miles. In the fast lane on the highway at legal speeds the Avenger shed power at close to a 60% rate. The battery capacity claim of 249 miles was almost perfect. I managed an average 244 miles from six goes at my home charger, so that’s effectively 100%.
The regenerative braking wasn’t impressive. A round trip of 99 miles removed 116 miles from the range availability over country roads. Another 45-mile country route cost 53 miles. It hated going up hills but didn’t pay back enough on the way back down. Sadly, this doesn’t make it particularly bad compared with the opposition. Tesla’s 3 and Y, plus the Kia Soul are the lone long-range standouts here, according to WintonsWorld data.
There is no 4X4 version yet, but one should be available next year.
Jeep Avenger Summit
Electric motor Power – 156 hp
Torque – 260 Nm
Gearbox – one-speed
Battery – 54 kWh
Claimed battery range – 249 miles (WLTP)
WintonsWorld test range capacity – average 244 miles (6 charges)
Highway cruising range estimate – 110.1 miles
Highway cruising penalty – 59%
Drive – front wheels
Acceleration – 0-60 mph 9.4 seconds
Top speed – 93 mph
Price – £39,600 ($48,700) after tax