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Jeep expects to grow plug-in hybrid SUV sales by as much as 50% in 2024

Jeep plans to grow U.S. sales of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by as much as 50% this year as it leans into the technology as a bridge between its traditional gas-guzzling SUVs and all-electric vehicles amid a slower-than-expected sales pace of EVs.

The Stellantis brand expects to sell 160,000 to 170,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, in the U.S. this year, an increase of 40% to 50% from last year, Jeep CEO Antonio Filosa told CNBC.

The target comes as Jeep launches its first all-electric SUVs in the U.S., beginning with the Wagoneer S.

“It’s the best time to be flexible, as we are,” Filosa said during an interview Thursday after unveiling the brand’s new EV in New York. “One of the pillars of growth for the market is going to be freedom of choice.”

PHEVs, which combine an internal combustion engine with EV technologies, could help accelerate consumer adoption of electrified vehicles, as a sort of stutter step to all-electric models.

PHEV sales at the level Jeep is expecting this year would top Stellantis’ total 2023 U.S. sales of the vehicles, at roughly 143,000 units. They also would outperform an industry forecast for 27.5% segment growth this year, according to AutoPacific. That compares with the consulting and data firm’s 17% growth for EVs.

Jeep’s PHEV sales last year totaled 113,113 units, including 67,429 Jeep Wranglers and 45,684 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Through the first quarter of this year, sales totaled 31,750, up 47% from the same period a year earlier. The brand is first in the U.S. in PHEV sales.

Jeep has leaned into PHEVs more than others to offset sales of the brand’s gas-guzzling SUVs amid tightening emissions and fuel economy standards.

The next Jeep vehicles are expected to be the Wagoneer S EV this fall, followed by a Wrangler-like EV called the Recon and a replacement for the discontinued Cherokee midsize SUV during the first half of next year. The automaker also will add new plug-in “range-extender” models to its gas-powered Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer large SUVs in 2025.

“We have a game plan. We have a business plan, and we believe that price position and product wise, we are perfect to meet the volume we want to make,” Filosa said.

Both hybrids and plug-in hybrids have a traditional engine combined with EV technologies. A traditional hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, has electrified parts, including a small battery, to provide better fuel economy to supplement the engine.

Plug-in hybrids typically have a larger battery to provide for all-electric driving for a certain number of miles until an engine is needed to power the vehicle or electric motors.

Both Filosa and Stellantis Chief Technology Officer Ned Curic said the company is evaluating whether to launch traditional hybrid vehicles in the U.S. in addition to its plug-in models.

“We’re deciding at the moment how will the market respond to our hybrids,” Curic said during a separate interview. “We have a good mix on our roadmap between EV, PHEV, [and internal combustion engine].”

The “range-extender electric vehicle” models, or REEVs, operate slightly differently than typical hybrids. The vehicles can operate as a zero-emissions EV until the vehicle’s battery dies and an electric onboard generator — powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine — kicks on to power the vehicle after its initial charge.

Stellantis’ first REEV vehicle is expected to be the Ram Ramcharger full-size pickup truck later this year.

“This is quite a good option,” Curic said. “I’m confident that vehicle is going to do exceptionally well.”

The REEVs are expected to be priced higher than PHEVs (which already carry a premium compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles) but below all-electric models, according to Curic.

This post appeared first on NBC NEWS