Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Electrify My Life, Please!

We drive a Jeep.  Not very green of the Greenes, right?  But we drive our Jeep Liberty all of 25 to 40 miles per week.  And since we have outdoorsy habits - notably Franklin's kayaking - and a growing family to haul, we will not be accomplishing these things in a Prius.

Because we're usually on foot, on Metro or on city bus, I don't feel so bad about our gas guzzling behemoth in the garage.  And, truth told, our Jeep Liberty isn't exactly a Hummer.  But when I was in the dealership over the summer, I was disappointed to hear that there were no plans in the works for anything more eco-friendly.  I figure plenty of Jeep drivers are also using them to haul bikes and kayaks and the like, and have an interest in saving the natural world so we can preserve our playspace.  Instead, the eager sales associate told me, they'd introduced the higher mileage Compass.

Meh.  Mileage is nice, but it was such a modest improvement that it didn't excite me.  And the style?  A little too soccer mom.

A few weeks ago, I was back at the dealership and noticed that Jeep had introduced Flex Fuel models - but only on their Grand Cherokee and Commander models, otherwise known as Very Big and Obnoxiously Oversized.  I'm not sure if the Grand Cherokee would fit into our garage.  (My best guess?  I could squeeze it in, but would then be forced to shimmy out through the optional sunroof, as the doors would be pressed up against the walls.)  As for actually acquiring Flex Fuel, at the moment we'd have to drive more than 20 miles each way to accomplish that task, so it pretty much torpedoes the idea.

As for the Commander?  I've been for a ride in a Commander, purchased by a safety-obsessed friend weeks after her firstborn came home in a Grand Cherokee that she decided was too small.  I felt like I ought to be invading a sovereign nation in that monster.  I'd have to park it in the distant reaches of parking lots, next to RVs and school buses.

The picture seemed bleak.  When I considered future car options, I found myself suggesting things like the Ford Escape Hybrid.  Franklin, whose dad worked for Chrysler back in the days of foot-powered Flinstone engines, would frown.

But then today, in the midst of misery on Wall Street and Franklin's job in peril, Chrysler announced that they're working on a Jeep EV for release sometime in 2010.  (The photo above is nabbed from their site.)  Check out all the details here at the Jeep EV site.  It's stylish and faithful to the Jeep legacy, and while we'd probably sacrifice some of our cargo room, it is apparently planned as a four-door model - one for each of the Greenes! 

We're optimistic that our current Jeep can carry us through to 2010 - it's really only a little more than a year away, and we've got less than 85,000 miles on our current ride.  Heck, if we can drive that thing until 2012, I'm happy to do so.  But I'm delighted to hear that eco-friendly options are coming from my favorite manufacturer.

Because 400 miles on 8 gallons of gas?  That sounds reasonable to me.

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