The new Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept provides clues as to how the legendary American 4×4 will survive into the electric era.
The Magneto has been revealed ahead of this year’s Moab Jeep Safari, at which the SUV brand traditionally unveils outlandish one-off takes on its production cars.
It’s one of four concepts heading to Moab in 2021, alongside a restomod version of the 1968 Jeep Commando, a heavily upgraded take on the Gladiator pick-up truck and an open-top take on the conventionally fuelled Wrangler that pays tribute to the model’s heritage.
The Magneto’s single-motor powertrain is said to offer performance on a par with the standard Wrangler’s 3.5-litre Pentastar petrol V6, packing 281bhp and 273lb ft for a 0-60mph time of 6.8sec and “unmistakable rock-climbing force”.
Unusually, the motor is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a clutch that operates “as it would with an internal combustion engine”. Regenerative deceleration like that allowed by a conventional EV’s single-speed transmission still features when the clutch is engaged.
The future production version of this concept will likely adopt a single-speed set-up.
The new powertrain is said to emulate the character of the V6 engine, with a “negligible” perceivable difference between the two in normal use.
Power is stored in four battery packs – distributed around the chassis for optimal weight distribution – with a combined capacity of 70kWh and equipped with 800V hardware for rapid charging. Each is encased in a waterproof enclosure so as to not diminish the Wrangler’s off-road prowess (it can wade at depths of up to 30in) and are protected from impacts by custom skidplates.
Jeep hasn’t quoted a range for the Magneto concept, but a 70kWh battery capacity should be enough for more than 220 miles per charge, which would likely increase with smaller tyres fitted.
As a concept, the Wrangler Magneto is finished in a striking bright white-and-blue colour scheme and features bespoke styling cues including a redesigned tailgate, uprated lights and a performance-inspired bonnet. Off-road upgrades extend to a 2in lift kit, 17in wheels wrapped in 35in tyres, a roll cage and beefy bumpers with a winch on the front.
Jeep has yet to launch a production-ready pure-EV, although the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid is due in Europe later this year with a combined 370bhp from its petrol-electric powertrain and an EV range of 25 miles.