Oct 15, 2003 In staging the introduction of the Jeep Treo 'Urban Mobility Vehicle' at the 37th Tokyo Motor Show, Chrysler Group is giving a nod to the cultural environment that is seemingly light years away from Detroit by showing an original anime that has been created for the presentation of the vehicle. And arguably, the three-passenger vehicle is one with an overall futuristic design that is better suited to the Tokyo Show environment than it would have been in Frankfurt or for Detroit next January.
One of the characteristics of anime is exaggeration, particularly of eyes. That is translated in the Treo to the wheels and tires: 19-inch wheels are pushed way out toward the corners of the vehicle: the wheelbase is 2450 mm, the overall length is 3235. It is clear from those numbers alone that the 'wheels out' design approach is taking over at Chrysler. What's more, as this is a Jeep, the fenders are set well above the tires and are bolted onto the side of the vehicle, in keeping with the machine-meets-the-great-outdoors ethos that is characteristic of contemporary Jeeps.
The Treo retains Jeep's nonpatentable-though-distinctive seven-bar grille. It is non functional in this case, as the car is powered by a fuel cell, "or other advanced powerplant of the future". The grille slots serve as a means to let light into the interior. Flanking the grille are large headlamps, in keeping with the anime approach.
But the front lamps are essentially secondary to the rear lamps, which are mounted on spar wings that emerge from the tapered body form. The Treo looks like it could be a vehicle from a very early prequel in the Star Wars saga. The teardrop form seems as though this is something that is destined for the sky rather than the ground or perhaps it could be a stylish lunar module. The lamps also serve as a mount for Jeep Rubicon mountain bikes, which is an interesting idea, but fails to take into account that the vehicle is designed for three people, not two. "Jeep Treo has a form and presence that challenge the brand's traditional dimensions, but in the end, can still be viewed as being authentically Jeep," stated Trevor Creed, Chrysler Group's senior vice president of Design.
Not only is this a fuel cell-powered vision, with electric motors driving both the front and rear wheels for Jeep-style four-wheel drive propulsion, but all of the steering, acceleration, and braking controls are by-wire. The by-wire approach means that conventional fixed mechanisms can be dispensed with. Consequently, the steering wheel and column, pedals, and instrument cluster are all contained in a single module that can be shifted from one side of the vehicle to the other, thereby solving the need for right- or left-hand driving setups.
The seats have carbon fiber frames that are covered with a translucent material. The rear seat (this is a two-by-one seating setup) can be folded down for additional cargo space. The interior achieves a sense of roominess from both the large windshield and from a glass roof at the rear of the vehicle.