Update: ‘Suzuki Jimny Electric’ and ‘Audi Electric off-roader’ added.
Carmakers are keen to penetrate the EV market in the USA, which is still trailing behind Europe and China. Keeping with the tradition of SUVs, which saw a spree of launches in the past decade, electric off road vehicles seem to be an area of focus for manufacturers, with about a dozen off-road EVs or off-road capable EVs planned to be launched by mid-decade.
Tesla Cybertruck Quad Motor
One of the electric off road vehicles we are particularly excited about is the Tesla Cybertruck. Specifically, we are talking about the Cybertruck Quad Motor that Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter on December 3, 2021. Musk said that the Quad Motor Cybertruck variant will be the first to hit the production lines and that its independent motors would provide “ultra-fast response.” It could beat the tri-motor Cybertruck’s 0-60 mph time of 2.9 seconds and offer a higher towing capacity (tri-motor: 14,000+ lbs).
Production of the Cybertruck has been delayed owing to the global chip shortage. Musk has said that technically the company could begin producing the Cybertruck, but the constraints on the supply chain could push its price up to over a million dollars, thus making little commercial sense. The new plan is to start manufacturing the Tesla truck in mid-2023.
Release Date: Production of the Cybertruck begins in mid-2023
Price: The Cybertruck is expected to range between $40,000-90,000
Hummer EV SUV
The electric off road vehicles from the GM stable hold a lot of promise, partly due to the advanced Ultium platform that, as seen on the Hummer EV Pickup, has a lot of capability. The Hummer EV SUV will be the next launch, promising similar strengths but in an SUV body style.
As it did with the Hummer EV Pickup, GM will launch an Edition 1 of the Hummer EV SUV and prioritize its production over other variants. On June 18, 2022, GM rolled out a price hike of USD 4,655 for the GMC Hummer EV SUV. The price hike applies to the EV2, EV2X, and EV3X trims, but not the Edition 1 trim. The company has confirmed that the price hike isn’t applicable retrospectively, meaning that it is committed to the original prices for the reservations made by June 17, 2022.
Reservations for the Hummer EV series are currently on pause. GMC Global VP Duncan Aldred has revealed that the new truck models are sold out for at least two years, as per a GM Authority report dated October 27, 2022.
Release Date: The Hummer EV SUV Edition 1 (incl. Edition 1 with Extreme Off-Road Package) will go on sale in early 2023. The EV3X and EV2X variants will follow in spring 2023, and then the EV2 variant in spring 2024.
The Vanderhall Brawley is the only model in this list not classified as an automobile, in the sense that it is not road legal. It is available in three variants.
The base variant does not have a roof and exhibits the character one expects from an off-roader, just like the Jeep Wrangler with a removable roof. The Brawley has an electric motor at each wheel, and like the Hummer EV, it can crab walk in addition to performing a ‘tank turn’ and low-speed incline crawling. All variants get 140 miles of range, but the top-end GTS variant is available with an optional 200-mile range package. The Brawley could be the most capable of electric off-road vehicles in not just its class but in other segments, too.
Release Date: Vanderhall has not yet announced when deliveries of the Brawley would commence.
Price: The Brawley is priced between $34,950-49,950.
Adding to the list of electric off-road vehicles with quad motor capability is the future Mercedes EQG. Like EQG will have four electric motors close to the wheels, all individually controllable. This setup should make it more capable than the gas-powered G Wagon!
Building the EQG on the ladder-frame chassis as the normal G-Class would ensure it offers similar levels of robustness. Another benefit of that, compared to developing it from the ground up on a new EV platform, would be reduced development cost and thus a lower price tag, and a quicker time to market. The chassis is stiffer and the batteries are part of its structure, Edmunds reported after getting a ride in an EQG prototype.
Edmunds suggested the EQG feels more at ease than the regular G-Class on challenging off-road trails. The electric model’s special capabilities include doing a tank turn like Rivian’s R1S and R1T. Called ‘G-Turn,’ this is an off-road-only feature and the driver can activate it with a button on the dashboard.
Autocar reports there are seven driving modes in the electric off-roader: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Trail, Rock, Sand, and Creeper. Each motor sends drive to its respective wheel through a two-speed gearbox with a low-range gear ratio. The battery pack capacity is around 100 kWh, but, as Dr. Emmerich Schiller says, it’s too early to talk about the range. Dr. Schiller is the CEO of Mercedes-Benz G and the Head of the Off-Road Vehicle Product Division at Mercedes-Benz.
Release Date: Britta Seeger, Mercedes BoM member responsible for Marketing & Sales, has confirmed that the Mercedes EQG is coming to the first markets in 2024.
Price: The Mercedes EQG could be priced between $140,000-190,000.
The Jeep Recon is an off-road SUV conceived as a 100% Jeep 4×4 and 100% electric. It is a true trail-rated model with the capability to cross the Rubicon Trail and drive back home on a single charge. Jeep says that the Recon features the Jeep Selec-Terrain traction management system, a one-touch power top, removable doors glass, electronically locking axles, and the latest generation Uconnect infotainment system (incl. travel guides of popular off-road trails). We’ll know more about this model when the company conducts its public debut in 2023.
Jeep plans to open reservations for the electric off-roader in the U.S. in early 2023 and manufacture it in a North American location from 2024.
Release Date: The Recon will debut in 2024.
Price: The Recon should be priced between $60,000-75,000.
Chevrolet Silverado EV Trail Boss
GM plans to first launch the Silverado EV in its WT (Work Truck) variant targeted at fleet customers and then gradually add several variants that suit the needs of private customers. The variants following later will include a fully loaded RST First Edition and a Trail Boss. The company wants to have a Silverado EV at various price segments, from USD 39,900 to higher than USD 80,000.
The Chevrolet Silverado EV Trail Boss should feature twin motors tuned for off-road application. The output figures could be close to that of the Chevrolet Silverado EV RST‘s motors, which will deliver up to 664 hp and more than 780 lb.-ft. of torque in a boost mode called Wide Open Watts mode. The Trail Boss variant should boast off-road tires and a special suspension setup that provides better all-terrain capability.
Release Date: The Chevrolet Silverado EV WT is planned to launch in spring 2023 and the Trail Boss could follow in 2024.
Price: The Silverado EV Trail Boss could be priced from around $70,000.
Ford Bronco Electric
From Ford CEO Jim Farley hinting at a Ford Bronco EV with a tweet in May 2021 to Ford North America Product Communications director Mike Levine tweeting the outline teaser of a Bronco EV with what appeared to be a battery pack on its floor pan in August 2021, it seems that a Bronco EV certainly exists in the pipeline.
Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, has revealed that the company is making a new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive Battery Electric Vehicle flexible architecture which he said would underpin “rugged SUVs for our adventure-seeking customers”.
Release Date: Expected to be revealed by 2026.
Price: Estimated to start from $50,000-60,000.
Scout electric pickup truck
Scout Motors, Volkswagen Group’s new company specializing in American launches, is developing an electric truck as one of its first models which it plans to bring to the market in 2026. Designed, engineered, and built in the U.S., it seems like a highly off-road capable model like the Hummer EV Pickup and R1T.
The Scout electric truck, gathering from the teasers, features a short overhang, which may give it a high approach angle. A flat hood, a high shoulder line, a sleek greenhouse, and vertical tail lamps are part of the design. Large wheel wells and high ground clearance will ensure there’s plenty of free space for the wheels to move in off-road situations.
Release Date: The Scout electric truck will debut in a prototype form in 2023, and enter production in 2026.
Price: Estimated between $50,000-65,000.
The Munro MK_1, claimed to be the world’s most capable pure electric 4×4, will debut on December 5, 2022. The new off-roader from the Scottish EV start-up will be available in the U.S. through Wyre, a local EV sales and leasing company.
The MK_1 is a proper SUV with body-on-frame construction and solid axles. It has aluminum body panels and a fully galvanized, high-strength steel chassis. The launch edition packs a 280 kW (375 hp)/700 Nm (516 lb.-ft.) powertrain. The transmission features a two-speed transfer case with a locking center differential. An 80.1 kWh battery pack provides 168 miles of driving range.
The MK_1 launch edition offers 29 cm (11.4 in.) of ground clearance from the axle, 100 cm of wading depth, 1,000 kg (2,205 lbs.) of payload capacity, and 3,500 kg (7,716 lbs.) of towing capacity. Munro may launch it in the U.S. as early as the second half of 2023. Production will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, but U.S. assembly from CKD kits is under consideration, in case the domestic facility runs out of capacity, as per a report electrive.com published on August 30, 2022.
Release Date: 2023
Ineos compact SUV
Gary Pearson, Head of Sales & Marketing UK and MENA, Ineos Automotive, has told Auto Express that the company plans to launch a new off-roader that’s smaller and offers a shorter range than the Grenadier. It will be an all-electric model designed for use on a farm, a safari, or an estate, basically places not demanding a long travel range.
Ineos Automotive is likely to develop the smaller model on a shortened version of the ladder frame that underpins the Grenadier instead of a new, bespoke EV platform. Some components, including the motors and battery pack, may come from BMW Group or Magna Steyr. It should be available in the U.S., as Ineos Automotive says on its website that it will announce the North American sales and serving sites for the Grenadier shortly.
Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and founder of Ineos, said, “This is 25, 50, 75 thousand cars a year, and we’ll produce an electric car in 2025,” when answering audience questions about Ineos Automotive’s vision at the Financial Times’ ‘Leading Through Disruption’ event on October 11, 2022 (via Youtube).
Release Date: 2025
Price: Around $50,000
Land Rover Defender EV
The Land Rover Defender is currently one of the most capable off-road vehicles in the market. The final chink in its armor is the lack of an all-electric version. However, as per Auto Express magazine, that will not stay that way for too long. The British automaker will be electrifying the boxy off-roader, most probably during the SUV’s mid-life update, with the debut planned in 2025.
All three variants of the Defender are to be fully electrified, and the British magazine expects Land Rover to move them to the Flex Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform, which already underpins models such as the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, ready for EV powertrains. The publication also cited an insider, suggesting the Defender EV could get a 100 kWh battery that may allow for a range of up to 300 miles (presumed to be WLTP range).
Release Date: The Defender EV is expected to reach customers in 2026 (as per Auto Express magazine).
Price: Could cost around USD 100,000.
Suzuki Jimny Electric
In its press release dated January 26, 2023, Suzuki said that the company plans to become carbon neutral in Japan and Europe by 2050. By 2030, the Japanese brand is hoping sales of its EV models to account for 80% of overall sales in Europe, where it will launch 5 new pure-electric models starting in 2024. While Suzuki hasn’t officially mentioned it, we are confident that one of these new EV models will be the Jimny Electric, by the unmistakable silhouette teased in the official presentation.
Considering the nameplate’s long-standing legacy, Suzuki would not want to not alter the characteristic boxy design of the Jimny too much when it goes all-electric. Therefore, it’s likely that the Jimny EV could also retain other design traits the gas-powered model is famous for – like circular headlamps, short front & rear overhangs, high ground clearance, and a large glass area. The standard four-seat layout would be continued, though a digital driver’s display and more advanced safety features can also be expected.
Release Date: Expected to be launched in the first markets by around 2027.
Price: Estimated to start at around EUR 25,000.
Audi Electric off-roader
Audi is really hoping to make a rugged SUV in the premium segment to take on the likes of the Land Rover Defender (EV) and Mercedes-Benz G-Class (EQG), CAR Magazine reported on January 26, 2023. Speaking to the British publication at the ActiveSphere concept’s preview was Audi’s Head of Design, Marc Lichte. Lichte told CAR that the planned all-electric off-roader could use the EV platform underpinning the Scout truck. This could also mean American production for the Audi off-road vehicle.
Lichte also told the publication that the all-new Audi Electric off-roader will borrow design inspirations from the ActiveSphere concept – including the latter’s pronounced wheel arches and peculiar-looking side sills. We expect the new model to feature a high ground clearance, driver-selectable off-road modes, and likely an all-vegan cabin upholstery option. Lichte said that platform-sharing allowed the e-tron GT’s development to be fast yet cost-effective, which could be the case for the planned Audi Electric off-roader as well, CAR Magazine noted.
Release Date: Expected to be launched around 2026.
Price: Estimated to start at around USD 75,000
Featured image: Tesla