The annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab has become an opportunity for Jeep to roll out new concepts. This year is particularly interesting because Jeep has decided to bring a fully-electric Wrangler to the Safari. Dubbed the Jeep Magneto, this concept is not your normal EV.
With the Magneto, Jeep is effectively trying to create the anti-EV EV. Instead of revamping the Wrangler from the ground up to accommodate electrification, engineers have shoehorned electrification into the existing Wrangler setup. This means the Magneto looks no different than a regular Wrangler from the outside, which is probably a good thing for Jeep fans. But similarities quickly dissipate beyond the skin.
Jeep has engineered an EV powertrain that mimics the power output of Jeep’s 3.6-liter V-6. This means there’s 285 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque from an 800-volt electric motor. Jeep says normally drivers won’t feel much of a difference in the power curve between the gas V-6 and this EV, which is unusual. That said, all 273 pound-feet of torque are on-tap instantly and can change the game versus the gas engine if the driver so chooses to leverage it. The electric motor’s rev limit is also 6,000 rpm, similar to a convention gas engine.
The EV setup hear starts to get really interesting in the fact it has a six-speed manual transmission. Yes, this electric vehicle has a clutch and requires shifting. It’s 4:1 transfer case allows for very slow crawling when off-roading, something many Jeepers will appreciate.
Magneto has four lithium ion battery packs housed in the frame rails. The packs are taking up space generally occupied by the fuel tank, exhaust system and under the hood. The total energy storage is 70-kWh, but Jeep isn’t offering any range estimates for this concept vehicle. The batteries are also adding a lot of heft as the Magneto weighs 5,750 pounds.
Jeep is maintaining two 12-volt batteries as well. These batteries are charged by the larger powertrain batteries and supply power to the convention electronics of the Magneto. The traditional batteries also supply power to accessories, such as a Warn winch found on this concept.
Jeep plans to bring the Magneto to three different Safaris. During each deployment Jeep will use the opportunity to see how an electrified Wrangler performs in the real world. So far Jeep isn’t saying when to expect a Wrangler EV to hit the market, but this exercise with the Magneto is a big step toward just that.