Yes, you read the title of this article correctly, Jeep may be unveiling an electric version of their signature flagship the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep is well known for designing trucks and SUVs that are unique in their class. If you put something like the newly unveiled Jeep Gladiator against another similar pickup from another manufacturer, chances are you’ll find Jeep to be in a league of its own. All that said, while Jeep has been known to offer stand out and rugged off-road SUVs and trucks they haven’t been praised for their fuel efficiency. The potential of an electric plug-in Wrangler changes that, completely. If this bit of current auto news turns out to be a reality, the Jeep brand will not only stretch the expected fuel economy of their vehicles, but it may also have the potential of expanding Jeep’s already widespread appeal.
Jeep Takes the Leap Towards Electric
Rumors of a hybrid Jeep Wrangler have been spreading for quite some time now. When the new Jeep Wrangler was revealed at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Jeep left clues that they’d be moving towards a hybrid electric model. There have even been speculative models of an electric Jeep Wrangler for several years now Although, that news has been confirmed by a recent FCA earnings report, and we also have a potential date. According to the report, FCA will release a hybrid Jeep Wrangler to their lineup in ‘early 2020,’ with production starting as early as the end of 2019. This is huge news for Jeep-lovers who would rather save some cash at the pump. While some Jeep brand purists may decry the idea of a hybrid Jeep, this potential vehicle could put current models to shame both on and off-pavement.
The Rise of the Electric Car
Over the past decade, there has been increased attention by car manufacturers towards electric and hybrid vehicles; and for a good reason. Gas prices have risen plenty since the turn of the century, and they only seem to be increasing. At the same time, there has been a change of focus on the consumer’s end as well. Consumers are becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint, and with the increased affordability of these hybrid, electric, and fuel-sipping vehicles, it is easy to see why car buyers are turning away from hulking gas guzzlers. Unfortunately, Jeep has always resided in the space of the in-between offering, sizeable trucks and SUVs that prioritized versatility on and off the pavement rather than fuel efficiency. The potential of a hybrid Jeep Wrangler changes that, and if the flagship takes a leap in that direction, there is a chance that the rest of the lineup may as well.
The Advantages of an Electric Drivetrain
Apart from the more exceptional gas mileage, an electric powered Jeep Wrangler could fair much better tackling the trials of Moab and other off-road challenges. Traditional combustion engines rely on fuel to supply power to the pistons, and the pistons use this power to turn the axels, which then roll the wheels forward. Electric drivetrains offer not only a cleaner option but a simpler one as well. Instead of having to rely on fuel to power the pistons, to turn the axels to then roll the wheels, electricity from the battery is sent into the motor which magnetically turns the axels. While the process of eliminating fuel from the equation may be beneficial in itself, it isn’t the only bonus an electric powered drivetrain can offer.
For starters, the process of combustion is quite slow when compared to the rapid power of electricity. Combustion engines have to rely on the chemical reaction of fuel to power, which must be then carried through a multitude of components before finally reaching the axels. Plenty of power is lost through this process. In an electric engine, you can utilize every iota of power that is put out. To make a sweet deal even sweeter, an electric engine can supply power to the axels instantaneously, which fairs for far greater off-road driving. The instant transfer of energy lends to superior torque as well, which is essential for any capable off-road vehicle.
The instant and waste-less supply of power offered by an electric engine can lend to an off-road vehicle that can do a much better job at tackling challenging off-road obstacles. At the same time, an electric drivetrain is much more reliable than one powered by fuel. Off-road driving can put a lot of unseen wear and tear on all of the complex components of your vehicle, and in a fuel powered drivetrain, there are plenty of these small pieces that can be damaged from a simple trek off-the-pavement. The simpler layout of an electric engine can mean fewer components to worry about. It is important to note that electric motors have far fewer moving parts when compared to fuel-powered engines, dramatically reducing the amount of internal friction.
In a fuel-powered vehicle, the loss or damage of a crucial component can leave you stuck out in the wilderness. Fortunately, a hybrid Jeep Wrangler, wouldn’t have to rely solely on the fuel-engine to get moving, and ideally will be able to switch between the two. The option of switching to electric power also offers an active escape if your main engine breaks down while out on the trail; this can save the avid off-roader the stress and expense of paying for a tow.
The superior reliability of an electric motor can make quite the difference when off-roading. You never know when a component can break on you and leave you stranded, with an electric engine, there are far fewer components to worry about, making for an all-around more efficient off-road experience. Added torque isn’t the only thing an electric engine can provide; it can also mean for fearless water fording. One of the most thrilling things to do while off-roading is passing through a stream, river, or pond. However, if you’re driving a fuel-powered car, you’ll need to rely on a snorkel, as water flooding into your engine can ground your vehicle permanently. Fortunately, electric vehicles don’t need air-intakes, making for inherent waterproofing.
What to Expect from an Electric Jeep Wrangler
While we are still a ways off from getting behind the wheel of an electric Jeep Wrangler, it is easy to see why this change won’t mean a complete shift in the Jeep brand. Brand purists can breathe a sigh of relief. In truth, an electric powered Jeep Wrangler may solidify the vehicle’s place as the all-around superior off-road vehicle. There is still a lot to learn about what this new Jeep Wrangler will offer, and how Jeep’s electric motor will stack up against competitors. Since the vehicle isn’t expected to go into production until late 2019, we still have some time before the initial sneak peeks get leaked out into the mainstream. Until then, you can get an idea of what the future electric Jeep Wrangler will offer on the trail, by checking out the video below. Produced by KAIST CAD4X and OXK, this Jeep JK Wrangler electric conversion is quite possibly the closest thing we’ll get to the official electric Jeep Wrangler in 2020.