We are all ears whenever Jeep announces it’s doing something to the Wrangler. The rugged SUV is the bedrock of Jeep and the brand is the price of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
Our enamor with the current Wrangler is no secret. In fact, we named our 2019 SUV of the Year. And we have known for some time that a plug-in hybrid version was due for a 2020 launch. FCA is great about releasing five-year plans that get us all excited, but the automaker also is more crisis-prone than most automakers. As such, we have learned virtually all the company’s plans are subject to change on a whim.
So we were heartened to learn during FCA’s 2020 annual shareholder meeting that the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is still on track for a 2020 launch. Mike Manley, chief executive officer of FCA, said the global unveiling of the electrified Wrangler is coming in the third quarter.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
“The vehicle will arrive in our showrooms in the [United States] by the end of this year and in Europe and China early next year,” Manley said. The Wrangler 4xe will be on the front line of FCA’s electrification push in North America.
Thanks to spy shots and recent social media teasers of the vehicle (which play up the Jeep’s silent EV-only driving mode), as well as the Jeep Wrangler 4xe concept from CES, we’ve managed to glean quite a bit about the upcoming Wrangler model. Predictably, the model will rely on an electric motor to boost power while also improving fuel efficiency, as well as offering enough power for short stints of all-electric driving. We expect Jeep to pair the torque-rich motor with the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that Jeep already uses in the Wrangler.
The Wrangler 4xe is expected to offer up to 31 miles of electric-only driving, which, as the video teasers above guarantee, will allow owners to sneak up on wildlife and scenic vistas without much noise. Being a Jeep, we would not be surprised to see the Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain serve as an external power source for the likes of personal camping equipment, too.
Like its conventional counterpart, the Wrangler 4xe will be built at the home of Jeep: The Toledo Assembly Plant, in Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Machining Plant (also in Ohio) will make the plug-in’s power module, install the applicable software, and conduct final testing before the units are sent to the vehicle assembly plant. The power module is comprised of the power inverter and the integrated dual-charger, which includes both an onboard charger and a DC/DC converter. Jeep will mount the module in a protective structure under the SUV between the exhaust and driveshaft.
The Wrangler 4xe is part of FCA’s commitment to have 30 models with electrified powertrains by 2022, an ambitious target for an automaker that only had the Pacifica Hybrid and the Fiat 500e but is now expanding quickly. The new Fiat 500 electric vehicle launched with a Limited Edition in Europe in March. Made in Italy, the car will be in European showrooms in September, Manley said.
Jeep Compass and Renegade Plug-in Hybrids
The Jeep Compass 4xe and Jeep Renegade 4xe PHEVs are leading Jeep’s electrified lineup in Europe; orders for both will be taken in late June or early July, Manley said. The powertrain uses a turbocharged 1.3-liter gas engine and an electric motor to generate 190-240 hp with an electric driving range of about 31 miles. We await full details, including when the models will be available in North America.
A fully electric Fiat Ducato commercial van for Europe is also coming this year. And FCA is planning a Maserati investor day in September to outline plans for the luxury brand and its electric future, including the new 2021 Maserati MC20 mid-engine supercar and a new “100 percent Maserati powertrain.”