Update: ‘New-age features’ section updated.
One of the specially built Jeeps at the 2022 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab in April 2022 was an electric Wrangler. We’re talking about the Jeep Wrangler Magneto 2.0 Concept, an updated version of the Magneto concept from the 2021 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab.
While it is no secret that an electric Jeep is in the works, the concepts give some insight into what the final product would be like. The Magneto is a testbed for the Jeep Wrangler electric, and here’s everything we know about the concept and production versions:
Jeep Wrangler electric design
The current, fourth-gen Jeep Wrangler just received its mid-life facelift in April 2023. There’s no evidence to suggest it’ll become available as an EV. There’s a strong possibility that the Wrangler will adopt full electrification when it moves to its fifth generation. So, expect the first-ever Wrangler Electric that comes to showrooms to be a newly designed model.
According to a report Auto Express released on May 11, 2023, Jeep CEO Christian Meunier has confirmed that the next-gen Jeep Wrangler will be an all-electric model. The British publication claims the next-gen Wrangler be an electric-only model. If Jeep follows through with this bold decision, it is likely that they will continue selling internal combustion engine (ICE) and plug-in hybrid versions of the Wrangler in the fourth generation, while reserving the fully electric powertrain for the fifth generation as part of their electrification shift.
Jeep Magneto 2.0 concept
The Magneto 2.0 Concept features custom lightweight bumpers and carbon-fiber wheel flares that provide better approach and departure angles for enhanced off-road capability. Jeep has painted the new Wrangler electric concept in a ‘Surf Blue’ color with a custom carbon-fiber B-pillar, carbon fiber hood, and custom bikini top. A blue-tinted, transparent window integrated into the hood allows seeing the power unit.
Production Wrangler electric design
In March 2021, Allen told The Detroit News that Jeep would take the Magneto to Moab (the natural testing ground for Jeep) over the next three years to make changes along the way. He hinted that the production model (Jeep Wrangler electric) would be done differently and teased the possibility of the production version looking quite different from the Magneto concept.
The Jeep Wrangler is quite versatile, and its electric variant will build on it. EV technology brings new design possibilities, particularly at the front. It allows improving space for people and gear, Meunier said at an APAC conference on July 13, 2021. The core design will remain unchanged, and we expect plenty of tweaks. Meunier said that the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a dream vehicle, but it has to adapt to the changing world and make its products even more exciting.
The 392 Wrangler is a dream vehicle at the same time the world is changing and evolving and our role is to make Jeep even more exciting and that platform of electrification gives it to us, we are lucky to have it. So we embrace it. The Jeep community likes nature, they embrace nature and to have a product that doesn’t pollute nature is quite great. And to drive in silence in nature is awesome, it is magic!Christian Meunier, CEO, Jeep, in July 2021
Will stay true to the original 1941 Jeep
Allen said at the roundtable that the company wouldn’t throw away the existing theme and start over again. It’s very important for customers and, thus, for the brand to carry forward the traditional design. The Wrangler will always have familiar connections to Jeep’s history from day one – the 1941 Willys Jeep. The design chief recollected the time when Jeep changed the Wrangler’s headlamp shape from round to square and removed the pitchforks and torches, saying that “people were horrified by that.” The company has learned that it’s always baby steps for the Wrangler when it comes to design changes, so the Jeep Wrangler electric will stay true to the original design.
The mechanical pieces, being able to finally move some of those pieces around will allow us a lower shorter hood, front storage like we talked about, not having to do the cooling up front, maybe I can move the wheels forward into a better position, the idea of having the torque being applied to the wheels in a different manner offers me some design solutions. Finally being able to move some big nuggets around on a platform that we couldn’t before. I think we can make a much more efficient package to the vehicle.Mark Allen, Head of Jeep design, on how an electric powertrain liberates new ideas to design, in July 2021
Allen previously said that Jeep would use the Magneto to gauge reaction from Jeep enthusiasts. One of the main concerns among Jeep enthusiasts is the charging infrastructure during long camping trips, which Jeep seems dedicated to solving using new solar-powered charging stations, such as the ones at the Badge of Honor trails at Moab and Rubicon Trail in California.
The whole reason for doing this (Magneto concept) was just to see what does a battery electric Jeep do in the off-road environment of Moab. Magneto is set to be a test bed for us to answer those questions that we have curiosities about.Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design
Jeep Wrangler Electric specifications
According to the Auto Express report, Meunier has confirmed that the pure electric next-gen Jeep Wrangler will be more capable than the fourth-gen model. However, it’d only have been a surprise if that wasn’t the case. Then again, we’re talking about a serious bump, one that’ll figuratively break Jeep’s Trail Rating scale.
If we talk about the fourth-gen Wrangler, the two-door Wrangler Rubicon is the most capable model, standing at the highest level – 10 – on the Trail Rating scale. The four-door Wrangler Rubicon stands at 9. The Recon will stand at 6, which is a really good level, and it’ll be possible to go up to 8 with a few modifications, Meunier said.
As for the pure electric next-gen Wrangler, Meunier wants it to be at a new all-time high level on the Trail Rating scale – 12. Electrification gives a Jeep more torque and makes it smoother and more precise, the brand boss said.
The Magneto 2.0 uses a custom-built axial flux electric motor that operates at up to 5,250 rpm, in combination with four battery packs with a combined power of 70 kWh, running an 800-volt system. The e-motor features a 6-speed MT with regen available during clutch engagement. Jeep has employed an inverter derived from race cars for the DC-AC conversion required for the motor.
The production Jeep Wrangler Electric will sit on the STLA Frame platform, which currently underpins the RAM 1500 REV. Stellantis plans to use battery packs with a gross (installed/embedded) energy storage capacity of 159-200+ kWh for the frame vehicles. The net (usable) energy storage capacity of these batteries would be enough to cover a distance of up to 800 km (497 miles). They could be Nickel-based cell-to-pack units, which Stellantis has said it will use in STLA-based EVs from 2026. The Wrangler EV will need batteries that hold their charge at high altitudes and in cold conditions.
The Wrangler electric’s battery is likely to come from the new U.S. battery production facility Stellantis and Samsung SDI plan to build with an investment of over USD 2.5 billion. Located in Kokomo in the State of Indiana, the factory will have an annual production capacity of 23 GWh when production commences in 2025. At a later stage, when there’s higher demand, that output will go up to 33 GWh.
The performance of the Magneto 2.0 is far superior to that of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The e-motor is tuned to deliver up to 850 lb.-ft. of wheel torque (more than triple the 2021 Magneto’s torque output) and 625 horsepower. Jeep says the Magneto 2.0’s powertrain can hold the peak amperage of 600 amps (more than doubled) for up to 10 seconds, and during that time, a 0-60 mph sprint takes 2 seconds. A driver-selectable maximum regeneration function that makes a one-pedal driving experience possible is also new in the 2022 Wrangler electric concept.
Jeep has derived the Magneto 2.0 from the two-door Wrangler. The company increased the wheelbase by 12 inches to accommodate the electric powertrain components. This dimension change gives the concept proportions similar to the 2004-06 Wrangler Unlimited LJ.
The Li-ion batteries are distributed around the 2022 Wrangler electric concept to balance the weight on the four wheels. One pack replaces the Wrangler’s fuel tank, another is mounted opposite the fuel tank location, the third pack sits on top of the e-motor, and the fourth is in the space normally used for a rear storage compartment.
The Magneto 2.0 features the Wrangler Rubicon’s Rock-Trac transfer case. Jeep changed the original concept’s 6-speed manual transmission for the updated version, tweaking the first gear ratio from 5.13 to 3.36. Together, these aspects give the new concept an “unequaled rock-crawling capability,” says Jeep.
The Rock-Track 4×4 system features Dynatrac 60 Pro-Rock front axle and a Pro-Rock Dynatrac 80 rear axle, with a 5.38 ratio and lockers. A custom driveshaft, an off-road suspension, a custom 3-inch lift kit, and 20-inch wheels wrapped in 40-inch off-road tires are also noteworthy off-roading hardware Jeep has used in the new concept.
The Jeep Wrangler Electric will pack a host of new-age technologies to appeal to modern customers just as much as old-school off-road enthusiasts.
In May 2023, Stellantis revealed it is developing AI and autonomous off-road driving technology that can be useful for Jeep customers who are new to the trail. For seasoned off-roaders, this technology will serve as a professional assistant that can help them drive out of tricky situations if they get stuck. The company has installed it in two Grand Cherokee 4xe prototypes and tested it in Moab. It will release details later in Summer 2023.
Video Source: YouTube/Jeep
For the Wrangler Electric specifically, Stellantis previously teased features like AI and autonomous off-road driving technology, 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 will enable bi-directional charging and provide a vehicle-to-vehicle charging function. Biometric Recognition will include a face recognition system that scans the customer’s face as they approach their vehicle and, on matching with the registered face, powers it on automatically.
Jeep Trails will include over 6,000 pre-loaded off-road trails, allowing new off-roaders to embark on their first adventures without any worries. Plus, Group Ride will locate and communicate with members of the customer’s Jeep community anywhere on or off the road. “Lost” will probably become a long-lost word, then!
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
With Jeep Platooning, customers going together on a trip in multiple Wrangler EVs or other Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication-enabled EVs from Stellantis would be able to stay in constant contact. This feature would make road trips interesting, especially for two or more facilities traveling together in different vehicles. It would be useful during off-roading, especially to alert following vehicles of any obstacles and guide them through the trail. Yves Bonnefont, Chief Software Officer, Stellantis, explains:
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)
Stellantis plans to gradually deploy V2V communication features in several other brands, although available features may vary as per the need of each brand:
We’re going to use the exact same software modules to create the same service with a different flavor for our friends and family brands, say Chrysler or Citroen in Europe, where you will have communication capabilities with two or three cars going on the motorway on the weekends and they can now talk between each other, they can point their GPS navigation towards the car of their friends and stop together, they can maybe listen to the same music, streaming at the same time, so they feel together.Yves Bonnefont, Chief Software Officer, Stellantis (Stellantis Software Day 2021 on December 7, 2021)
How electric helps Jeep
Speaking to Wards Auto in July 2022, Meunier said that the Jeep Wrangler appeals to a variety of customers, “from women who think it’s cute to the hardcore off-roader.” The introduction of an electric powertrain could further broaden its appeal.
The Wrangler is going electric primarily because of stricter emission regulations, but there are many advantages customers will get from the transformation. An electric powertrain provides silent driving, which would make the Wrangler even more suitable for safari and other expeditions for animal/bird-watching.
A front trunk’s extra storage space would make it more practical in urban and off-road situations. These benefits are in addition to the most basic advantage, which is instant torque. The company can also give each wheel a dedicated motor to further improve off-roading capability. A shorter hood could enhance the visibility of the road/trail ahead.
By the next decade, the Jeep Wrangler electric could gain the capability to drive underwater. At the virtual roundtable on July 13, 2021, Jeep teased a fully submersible Wrangler in a video. Meunier referred to that capability as “a wink to the future” and said it “could be a dream after 2030.” “Maybe not a dream, though,” Meunier quickly corrected, suggesting that the company wants to make that dream of off-road enthusiasts true next decade.
One of the other elements is clean air, we’re working on a vehicle right now in my shop, it’s a future vehicle we’re talking about, how we could open the back of the vehicle up somebody brought up, we’ll you’ll have exhaust fumes coming in the back, no not in an electric vehicle, it’s pure! Electricity is going to make not just a new Jeep, but a better Jeep in every way, and we’re very excited about that!Mark Allen, Head of Jeep design, dwelling on the benefits an electric powertrain brings to a Jeep SUV, in July 2021
Jeep Wrangler Electric release date
According to the Auto Express report, the Jeep Wrangler Electric may debut as early as 2027.
Until Jeep’s proper off-road SUV based on a traditional ladder-frame chassis arrives, the Recon should fulfill the needs of most early EV adopters who require a go-anywhere SUV. Most hardcore Wrangler fans would anyway not accept a conversion Wrangler EV and rather wait for Jeep to engineer a vehicle that is as capable as the gas model, before switching over.
Stellantis wants to have a zero-emission, fully electric Jeep 4xe model in every SUV segment and convert 70% of its sales to electrified models by 2025. The long-term goal for the Jeep brand is to convert 50% of its sales in the U.S. and 100% of its sales in Europe to pure electric vehicles.
Until the introduction of the Jeep Wrangler Electric, environmentally conscious Jeep enthusiasts will have to contend with the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the company’s first PHEV in North America, which starts at USD 54,735 (excl. USD 1,795 destination fee).
The Jeep Wrangler is one of the best-selling models and a breadwinner for the brand in the U.S. and Canada. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe remained the best-selling PHEV in both these markets in 2022.
In the U.S., Wrangler sales declined 11% year-over-year to 181,409 units in 2022 (2021: 204,610 units) but were still at a considerably high volume compared to all other Jeeps except for the Grand Cherokee (223,345 units). Nearly a quarter (43,176 units or 24%) of the sales came from the Jeep Wrangler 4xe. In Canada, Wrangler sales grew 20% from 20,026 units in 2021 to 23,994 units in 2022. The Wrangler continues as the best-selling Jeep in the country.
In Q1 2023, Wrangler sales in the U.S. were 17% lower than in Q1 2022 – 37,971 units (Q1 2022: 45,551 units). 38% of the 37,971 units (approx. 14,400 units) were of the 4xe variant. In Canada, Wrangler sales in Q1 2023 were 25% lower than in Q1 2022 – 5,010 units (Q1 2022: 6,642 units). Nearly 20% of those 5,010 units (almost 1,000 units) were of the plug-in hybrid variant.
Featured image: Stellantis