Update: ‘Sales’ section added with figures for US and Canada in 2021.
The Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept (electric Jeep Wrangler concept) was revealed at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari held between 27 March to 4 April 2021. According to Mark Allen, head of Jeep’s design studio, the Jeep Wrangler electric could hit showroom floors in the ‘following years,’ though he did not put a timeline to the launch. Jeep may not delay the launch beyond 2024 when its STLA Frame platform (designed for electric pickup trucks) with a range of 500 miles (800 km) would be ready for deployment.
Electric Jeep Wrangler Design
The Jeep Wrangler Magneto, presented last year, is perhaps the closest we can get today to an Electric Jeep Wrangler. According to The Detroit News, Mark Allen, head of Jeep design, has already said that the Magneto would be taken to Jeep’s natural testing ground, Moab, over the next two and a half years. And while the Magneto is currently the baseline, Allen has said that the production model of the Wrangler Electric will look quite different.
He added that the Magneto is just a test-bed, a concept to gauge Jeep enthusiasts’ reactions. The Magneto is being used to see what a battery electric vehicle can do in an off-road environment such as Moab and answer other questions that they have, he said.
Speaking at an APAC virtual conference on July 13, Christian Meunier, the CEO of Jeep, said that with EV tech bringing in so many possibilities such as more space for people and gear, the electric variant of the Wrangler will only get better. According to Meunier, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a dream vehicle but thanks to electrification and the changing world, improvements can be made.
In the same conference, Allen spoke about how the electric platform helps with redesigning the Wrangler. With ideas such as a lower shorter hood, more forward-set wheels, and even front storage, Allen says that a lot of big things that couldn’t be moved around can now be. “I think we can make a much more efficient package to the vehicle,” he said.
Recollecting the time when Jeep replaced the round headlamps with square units, Allen said, “people were horrified by that,” and the company isn’t ready to throw away its theme. The traditional design is very important for the customer and because of that, future Wranglers will continue to have connections with the original 1941 Willys Jeep, Allen said.
One of the biggest challenges for Jeep enthusiasts comes with charging infrastructure during long camping trips. As a solution, Jeep is dedicated to using solar-powered charging stations two of which are coming to the Badge of Honor trails at Moab and the Rubicon Trail in California respectively.
Jeep Wrangler EV features
At the Stellantis EV Day 2021, Jeep revealed key features of the Wrangler EV. Biometric recognition technology will allow the customers to conveniently unlock and start their Wrangler EV with a simple scan of their faces. A horizontal lightbar located behind the signature seven-slot grille, likely at the same height as the LED front fog lamps, will provide extra illumination in the dark and make the electric variant instantly recognizable. Bi-directional charging will enable ‘peer-to-peer charging,’ meaning that it will be possible to charge other vehicles using the battery power of the Wrangler EV. Lastly, drone pairing will also be available.
Video Source: YouTube/Jeep
By 2030, Jeep envisions the Wrangler EV with more capabilities like autonomous off-road driving and remote vehicle tracking. The video above shows a Jeep Wrangler EV (Jeep Wrangler Freedom) driving up a hill to pick up the driver and passenger.
The Jeep Wrangler EV, while staying true to its traditional SUV characteristics, wouldn’t disappoint the modern customers who also take into consideration convenience and tech features. The off-road-focused electric SUV will boast several new-age features teased by Stellantis like Peer-to-Peer Charging, Remote Vehicle Tracking, Biometric Recognition, Jeep Drone Pairing, Jeep Trails, Group Ride, OTA Updates, and AR HUD.
Peer-to-Peer charging allows for bi-directional Vehicle-to-Vehicle Charging for when you are stuck on a trail. The Biometric Recognition powers the car ON automatically when the system finds that the face approaching the vehicle matches the registered face.
With Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication capabilities, our Jeep brand community will stay connected, and share adventures from the most remote locations even without cellular connectivity.Mamatha Chamarthi, SVP Software Business & Product, Stellantis, at the Stellantis Software Day 2021 on December 7, 2021
The Jeep Trails is a feature specifically designed for the off-roading community that includes 6000 off-road trails preloaded into the system with the relevant information. Someone who is venturing into an environment for the first time will find it extremely useful. The V2V interaction will be available with multiple future Stellantis products making for exciting off-roading adventures with friends without losing contact.
We enable communication between the different cars on the trail. This is obviously resonating very very well with our Jeep customers and their passion to go off track.Yves Bonnefont, Chief Software Officer, Stellantis (Stellantis Software Day 2021 on December 7, 2021)
Specifications of the Jeep Wrangler Electric prototype
Jeep has used a custom-built axial flux electric motor on the Magneto that operates up to 6,000 rpm, combined with four battery packs with a combined power of 70 kWh, running an 800-volt system on the Wrangler Magneto. A 6-speed MT with regen available during clutch engagement is another highlight of the concept. Jeep says the performance from the electric Wrangler is comparable to a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, with 285 hp and 273 lb.-ft (370 Nm) of torque, enabling the electric Jeep Wrangler to spring to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds.
The Li-ion batteries are distributed around the electric Jeep Wrangler on the four wheels to balance the weight. With one pack replacing the Wrangler’s fuel tank and another mounted opposite the fuel tank, the third pack sits on top of the e-motor and the fourth in the space normally used for a rear storage compartment.
How an Electric powertrain helps Jeep
Stricter emission norms and a changing environment are probably the biggest reasons for the Jeep Wrangler to go electric. There are more advantages, however. Features such as a front trunk make the vehicle more practical in both urban and off-road environments. An electric powertrain’s silent drive is an excellent feature to have when on a bird-watching or any other kind of safari. But the biggest advantage comes because so many Jeep enthusiasts love to push the limits of what their vehicles can do. The instant torque required in these situations is something an electric powertrain does naturally. Add in a shorter hood for better trail visibility and a motor dedicated to each wheel for better off-road capability.
Jeep to expand its electrified model line
Jeep’s electrified models will be focusing on big markets like Europe, China, and the USA for the majority of their sales. The United States being the biggest market for the brand, Jeep is confident that it can convince people to adopt EV products faster. Given Jeep’s appeal to off-road enthusiasts, the EV models with their high voltage batteries will further benefit them as they double up as power sources for their lights, camping equipment, and gears. Through partnerships, Jeep would also build solar-powered vehicle charging stations in remote locations.
Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares expects sales of electrified vehicles to reach 70 per cent in Europe and 35 per cent in North America by the year 2030. Meunier said at the Stellantis EV Day 2021 that Jeep will have a zero-emission model in every SUV segment in 2025.
Until the arrival of the electric Jeep Wrangler, Jeep enthusiasts yearning for a charging port will have to contend with the Wrangler 4xe, Jeep’s first PHEV in North America, which starts at USD 47,995. The Wrangler 4xe is America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle (retail), and the entire year’s production (2021) sold out in no time.
The virtual roundtable on July 13 also teased a fully submersed Wrangler. Of course, at the moment that isn’t possible, but Meunier says that capability is a “wink to the future” suggesting that Jeep could be working on that. “It could be a dream after 2030. Maybe not a dream, though,” he said.
Wrangler range goes PHEV-only in Europe
Jeep has announced that the 2022 Wrangler will be offered only as a plug-in hybrid model in left-hand-drive European markets. It will help the brand move towards the goal of having 70% of its sales with electrified powertrain worldwide by 2025. The SUV can be driven in full-electric mode and will make travelling in and around the city emission-free. The Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre engine mated to two electric motors, churning out 380 hp and 637 Nm of twist force. The SUV’s EV mode range is 50 km (urban WLTP range).
Bronco EV to take on the Jeep Wrangler EV
Like Jeep, Ford may launch a pure electric variant of its hardcore off-roader. The Blue Oval has given a few hints recently that it plans to launch a Bronco EV. On 10 May 2021, a Twitter user Powered by Tesla (@gendyn01) asked Jim Farley Jr., President and CEO, Ford, why isn’t there an electric option for a Bronco. In response, Farley Jr., said: “Why do you think we don’t?”
Two weeks later, on 26 May 2021, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, announced a new RWD/AWD BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) flexible architecture. Thai-Tang confirmed that the company plans to build “rugged SUVs” for its “adventure-seeking customers” on the new dedicated EV platform. Moreover, while saying “rugged SUVs,” a teaser of a future EV that looked like a Bronco EV flashed on the screen.
The Wrangler is the Jeep’s primary volume driver, a model that brings in the majority of revenue in the US and Canada. However, in 2021, Wrangler’s American sales grew by 6% while sales in Canada declined by 6%. Sales increased from 201,311 units in 2020 to 204,610 units in 2021 in the US but plummeted from 21,262 units in 2020 to 20,026 units in 2021 in Canada. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe was introduced in 2018 and 2021 was its best year in terms of sales.
Featured Image Source: Jeep