Is the future of off-road driving electric?

Jeep have just announced that it will produce an all-electric Wrangler for the future. Dubbed the Jeep Magneto the brand will reveal the concept zero-emissions off-road vehicle to the world at its Easter Safari at Moab, Utah, USA. The US off-road carmaker will show-off and test drive their new and concept vehicles on Moab’s iconic trails from March 27 to April 4.

The Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept is a battery electric vehicle that the brand says is fully capable yet is stealthy, quiet, quick and an unmistakable rock-climbing force. Jeep brand engineers and designers have created a zero-emission vehicle with Jeep 4×4 capability that provides new levels of efficiency, environmental responsibility and performance on and off-road.

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The Magneto is based on the two-door 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and features a custom-built axial flux electric motor that operates up to 6,000 rpm. The e-motor is connected to a six-speed manual transmission, creating a unique manual-electric powertrain, with a clutch that operates as it would with an internal combustion engine. In quick-shift scenarios, the e-motor engages upon clutch engagement to prevent rev-hang.

The compact e-motor is tuned to deliver up to 370Nm (273ft-lb) of torque and 285 horsepower, which is comparable to the 3.6-litre V-6 combustion engine. Jeep says the driving experience is designed to emulate V6. During moderate driving, the performance difference between the V-6 and the Magneto’s unique manual-electric powertrain is negligible except for near-silent operation. This should keep old school petrolheads happy.

When greater acceleration is needed, the e-motor delivers 370Nm (273ft-lb) of torque without the need to build up revolutions per minute. This is a huge advantage of an electric powertrain over a combustion engine. The Jeep Magneto’s motor is powered by four battery packs with a combined power of 70 kWh, running an 800-volt system.

The lithium-ion batteries are distributed around the Wrangler to balance weight on the four wheels. The Magneto is no slug when it comes to getting up to speed accelerating from 0-62 mph (0-100kph) in just under seven seconds. Jeep haven’t announced the range of the Mangeto yet.

An inverter derived from race cars converts DC power to AC for the high-tech motor. The batteries, a vehicle interface box and the battery control module all reside in waterproof enclosures to maintain the Wrangler’s 30-inch (76.2cm) water-traversing capability.

A 12-volt battery powers existing systems, such as the radio and lighting. A second 12-volt battery serves as an auxiliary power unit (APU) for accessories, such as the winch. A DC-to-DC converter charges both 12-volt batteries, allowing long-term operation of accessories to power a campsite or an unexpectedly long winch operation.

Unique mounts secure the battery packs for harsh driving and custom skid plates protect the packs from potential strikes to the undercarriage while traversing harsh terrain. A 10kw high-voltage heater keeps the fully open-air passenger compartment comfortable.

The exterior of the Magneto features a bright colour scheme with blue accents, along with a heavy-duty performance hood, with a redesigned rear gate and dramatic full-width forward lighting. Inside, blue and black leather seats with a blue truck bed liner and Mopar slush mats give the Magneto’s interior design an electrified appearance.

The Jeep Magneto comes equipped with a JPP 2-inch (5cm) lift kit, 17-inch (43cm) wheels with 35-inch (90cm) and mud-terrain tyres. There’s also a custom roll cage, Mopar Rock Rails, steel bumpers with a Warn winch and a steel belly pan for added off-road capability.

Jim Morrison, vice president, Jeep Brand North America, said: “The Moab Easter Jeep Safari has long been our testing ground for both our newest Jeep 4x4s and for showcasing new Jeep brand concepts.

“This year’s Safari shines a spotlight on what makes Jeep vehicles unmistakably distinctive and undeniably capable—a variety of powertrains that deliver superior power, performance, torque and, above all, fun.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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