Jeep has confirmed a plug-in hybrid version of the just-unveiled Wrangler will be released in 2020
Speaking to media at the launch of the new Wrangler at the Los Angeles motor show, Jeep president and CEO, Michael Manley, said the plug-in off-roader demonstrates a desire to future-proof the model, and a chance to explore the benefits of electrification for serious off-roaders.
The plug-in will be built with the goal of "furthering our commitment to all those who value responsible sustainable enjoyment of the great outdoors and, very importantly, future proofing this Wrangler for generations to come”, Manley said.
Engineers are still wrestling with how to deploy electric power in the Wrangler. Will the system work on one axle, or both? Manley didn't provide a concrete answer, but he suggested the car would have capability equal to, if not better than, standard petrol and diesel cars.
"We need to make sure we balance the gas engine and the hybrid to deliver the torque as we need it, at the time that we need it," he said. "What the engineers are working on is, we want the enhancement capability that electric brings, but also want to bring that so our customers get the benefits of improved fuel economy.”
Wrangler won’t be the only electrified Jeep, either, with Manly admitting it’s inevitable other models will go down the same path in the coming years.
But why it start with the iconic Wrangler? The decision was made to guarantee a future for the long-running nameplate, ensuring it will be allowed to continue well into the next decade, even as emissions and fuel standards become tougher to meet.
“[We need to] future proof this vehicle, the icon of the brand. We all know as we get into the 20s depending on which region you are in, the fuel economy and emissions get stricter and stricter, so for us it’s about future proofing the Wrangler for generations to come.”
According to Manly, packaging the plug-in batteries will not affect water-fording depth or off-road ability. In fact, he was keen to highlight that, while electrification is necessary for the future, it's also beneficial for keen off-road drivers.
"I would say that when I was thinking of electrification [at first] it was that we have to do electrification because of all of the changes, but when you think about appropriate use of electrification – particularly the torque management in the low end – if it’s deployed in a way that it can help, to control that torque, it would make a lot of sense to have it on our vehicles to get it to enhance our capabilities and get the added benefit of fuel economy”
So far, engineers are working out the balance between maximum fuel economy and ideal torque deployment.
The Jeep Wrangler plug-in will be available for international markets, including Australia, from 2020.