MILAN -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has started preparations for the production of a plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Renegade as the automaker pushes ahead with its electrification drive to meet tougher emissions rules.
FCA said in June it would invest 9 billion euros ($10.3 billion) in electric and hybrid cars over the next five years to become fully compliant with emissions regulations across regions.
It also pledged to phase out diesel engines in European passenger cars by 2021.
The Renegade plug-in hybrid is expected in the market in early 2020. It will be produced at FCA's Melfi plant in southern Italy, which is already building the combustion engine version of the model and the Fiat 500X crossover, FCA said.
More than 200 million euros will be spent on the new engine, the company said. Workers will be retrained for the new technology and the plant will be modernized.
The Renegade plug-in hybrid is the next step in FCA's electrification roll-out, following the launches of the Pacifica minivan plug-in and the mild-hybrid technology launched on the Ram 1500 truck earlier this year.
By 2022, FCA plans to offer a total of 12 electric propulsion systems, including full-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and full hybrids, it said, adding thirty different models would be equipped with one or more of these systems.
Former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne had long refused to embrace electrification, saying he would only do so if selling battery-powered cars could be done at a profit.
He even urged customers not to buy FCA's Fiat 500e, its only battery-powered model, because he was losing money on each sold. But Tesla's success and the need to comply with tougher emissions rules forced Marchionne to commit to what he used to refer to as "most painful" spending.
Marchionne died unexpectedly in July after succumbing to complications from surgery, but his successor, Mike Manley, vowed to continue the strategy laid out in June.