There will be electricity powering a Wrangler, after all.
No, we’re not talking about the mild-hybrid, belt starter system in the newest Wrangler's optional 2.0L Hurricane engine, but an entirely new powerplant that will introduce a brand-first range-extending engine.
And all coming to a dealership sooner than you may think.
Jeep Head of Brand Mike Manley made the surprise announcement during Wednesday’s press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which unveiled the company's newest Wrangler – the 2018 JL model.
“In addition to the all-new mild hybrid Wrangler, a full plug in electric Jeep Wrangler will be available in 2020,” Manley said. “Furthering our commitment to all those who value responsible, sustainable enjoyment of the great outdoors, including future proofing this Wrangler for generations to come.”
While Jeep did not announce any details regarding how electrification would integrate into the Wrangler JL, it is notable because current Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been an outspoken opponent of this kind of technology.
As recent as last month, Marchionne told industry media that FCA loses thousands of dollars on each sale of its Fiat 500e model, which sells exclusively in California. He also said he does not think the current automotive industry business model is ready to support electric cars.
"We still don't have a viable economic model for delivering an electric car," Marchionne said.
However, Manley indicated Wednesday that the brand needs to look ahead to future fuel economy and emission regulations, and will need this type of system to stay competitive in the marketplace.
“Electrification is therefore naturally part of the future lineup for Wrangler,” he said.
FCA currently builds the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, which is able to travel 33 miles on electric power and has a lithium-ion battery pack with 16-kWh (kilowatt hours). The vehicle also uses a 3.6-liter V6 engine, which brings the total driving range to 566 miles.
It is entirely possible Jeep may utilize this type of system in the Wrangler, however Pacifica’s engine is not considered a ‘range extender’.
It also remains to be seen what kind of horsepower and torque would be generated from an all electric Wrangler powerplant.
The company’s newest Wrangler will offer an optional 2.0L Hurricane mild-hybrid engine early next year that features a belt starter generator to help assist with power and regenerative braking. This engine will push out 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.