We know more and more SUVs that receive the 4xe plug-in hybrid engine from Jeep. We know that the Wrangler will eventually be offered in electric, but until then, the Avenger will be introduced, a subcompact SUV with traction. Unfortunately it won’t be marketed in Canada, but with the unveiling of this model, it’s an opportunity to take a look into Jeep’s past to see a precedent. It is not yesterday that Jeep wants a small SUV with an alternative engine. In fact, almost 20 years ago, at the 2003 Tokyo Auto Show in Japan, Jeep presented the Treo, a brand new approach for the manufacturer: a 3-seater hydrogen-powered microSUV.
We immediately recognize the style of Jeep despite the eccentricity of the bodywork. Everything happens in the development of the radiator grille with 7 vertical openings which is currently glazed and the two very round headlights. For the rest, we fall into a new universe of automotive design. The passenger compartment curves towards the rear, being quite narrower than the front. We opt for two horizontal arms as supports for the lights which are placed very high. These also serve as air inlets to help cool the mechanical components. In the center, the bezel is small, but covers most of the tiny tailgate. Oversized rims furnish floating wheel arches. Despite its 20 years, this concept has not yet taken a single wrinkle, proof that Jeep had a good fiber with this approach. The dimensions of the Treo are miniature. It measures no more than 3,235 millimeters, or just over 127 inches. Its mass is also reduced to only 816 kilos, or less than 1,800 pounds.
Inside, we are once again in an almost parallel universe. There are only 2 real places. The third has to be sacrificed if cargo space is wanted. To counteract this problem, especially for bicycle enthusiasts, there are two cavities in the bumper to put the rear wheel in. The arch of the front wheel then simply hooks onto the arm of the lights. For more functionality and depending on where you are driving in the world, all the steering controls, steering wheel, instrumentation and pedals can be moved from left to right in the cabin.
In terms of mechanics, the details were never particularly developed on the part of Jeep. This is often the case with concepts. In this case, Jeep claims that we get electrified mechanics that run on a hydrogen fuel cell. As it has 2 electric motors, one on each axle, the Treo comes de facto with all-wheel drive. It’s a shame Jeep didn’t produce the Treo; with its friendly design, its energy-efficient engine and even its all-wheel drive, it would no doubt have pleased many Quebecers ready for urban adventures.