Fiat Chrysler has already confirmed it will eventually produce a Jeep Wrangler JL hybrid, however Jeep brand boss Mike Manley thinks a Wrangler EV would be going too far.
Speaking to AutoExpress, Manley said a Wrangler EV wouldn’t be appropriate for the go-anywhere Jeep brand due to the range issues associated with electric motors and batteries. He also revealed the automaker is undecided on just what type of hybrid system the Wrangler JL hybrid will employ and is trying to find a good balance between gas and electric power for the off-roader.
“Yes. We have continued our studies on hybridisation for the Wrangler, and it’s a balance for us. Obviously there are loads of different hybrid technologies, from mild to 48v through to full battery-electric,” Manley told AE at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.
“For the Wrangler you need to strike the right balance; we don’t want to do something that will leave you stranded on a hillside. So for me, full battery EV is not a great fit. But hybridisation works well with the brand because of the attributes that come with electric motors – not just the torque, but also the control.”
Manley makes an interesting point about the control afforded by electric motors. The Wrangler’s electric drive system could, in theory, concentrate its power to the wheel that has the most grip, similar to a differential but with even more accuracy and precision, thereby enhancing its off-road capability. A hybrid Wrangler might sound like an appeal to the mall-crawl crowd, but if the system was robust, it could even convince a few true Jeep enthusiasts to get behind the wheel.
Manley’s uncertainty in regards to the Wrangler hybrid is an indication that Jeep is unsure what the powertrain system will truly consist of. Last year Maserati said FCA doesn’t have the overheard to develop multiple hybrid systems, so even Maserati hybrids would use a version of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s electric drive system and 16 kWh battery pack. We assume that means the Wrangler will get a version of the load out as well, perhaps employing the same Atkinson-cycle 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. The automaker still has plenty of time to make a decision, with the hybrid Wrangler not expected to arrive until 2021 or later.