Every year thousands of jeep enthusiasts gather in Moab, Utah for an event known as the Easter Zip Safari. An eight-day off-road holiday at one of the world’s best rock-crawling locales has become an opportunity to connect with Jeep fans over the years.
At the same time, over the years, several engineers from the company have teamed up to create a number of concept cars that make their debut at the event. On occasion these teasers give potential customers a taste of what the company is cooking for the unveiling of future products, or at least the items that may be offered as factory accessories in the future.
In 2021 the world was treated to the concept of an all-electric Jeep Wrangler magneto. And this April 9, Jeep unveiled an updated Magneto 2.0 concept. Last July, two ideas, including the EV Day of Stellantis, Jeep’s parent company, made it clear that an all-electric version of the iconic Wrangler would be on the card in the near future.
Electrical propulsion has some unique features that allow EVs to excel in off-road environments. An electric vehicle is much quieter than its petrol or diesel-powered counterparts, allowing the EV off-road pilot to hear what the tires and suspension are doing. Electric motors provide instant power delivery with the driver’s foot accelerator pedal. Without working around the delaytrain of the drivetrain, an electric-motorized jeep will be well accustomed to climbing rocks and ribs on the trail. And that’s all before you consider the environmental impact of tailpipe emission-free trail driving.
The 2021 Wrangler magneto concept was a good first attempt, but immediately it was seen as a half-baked affair. With just 285 horsepower on the tap, it provides poor performance for an electric vehicle. It also retains its factory manual transmission, transfer case and locker axles, making it clear that this is an unimaginable concept, technically dominated by production-ready electric off-roaders like Primitive and Revenge in practice compared to the already sold modern EVs. R1T and GMC’s Hummer EV.
Importantly, if Jeep is to be taken seriously with the introduction of an electric off-roader, it must convince Jeep fans that EVT is not just a replacement for their favorite Wrangler, but an improvement. This should convince EV enthusiasts that the jeep had a way to go. To do this, it has to take some big steps beyond the original magneto concept.
With its second attempt, the Magneto 2.0 concept, unveiled at this year’s Easter Zip Safari, it looks like Zip has done just that. A new electric powertrain, now featuring a more capable motor and a larger battery pack, greatly improves power and torque compared to last year’s effort.
Like the original magneto, the second generation still has a manual transmission, this time a 6-speed unit pulled from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat to handle the huge power output. The Magneto 2.0 now has 625 horsepower and 825 pound-feet of trail-shedding electric torque. This allows the off-road Beast to sprint from 0-60 miles per hour in just two seconds, making it as fast as the Tesla Model S Plade, but in a Jeep.
Most electric vehicles avoid single-gear multi-speed transmission because electric motors are capable of spinning at much higher RPM than the average petrol motor and deliver power in a more predictable fashion. Stuck with a six-speed manual gearbox, the Jeep concept allows for more options during off-road. An electric car can’t stop, and a clutch is not needed to start moving, so you can effectively put the gearbox in any gear and roll out a stop immediately. This allows the driver to choose a lower gear and still has a very slow but highly torque-driven “crawl” gear, which helps maintain traction while climbing the trail.
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The Magneto 2.0 concept started out as a two-door wrangler, although a full foot was added to the car’s wheelbase to find more space for the battery. Jeep engineers then fitted the SUV with a three-inch lift kit and 20-inch wheels, as well as some extremely chunky trail tires. To save some of the weight that comes in the form of batteries and an extended chassis, the company completely removes the roof in favor of a bikini-style top and replaces factory steel and plastic body panels with fatherweight carbon fiber.
Next comes the key for Jeep’s parent company and EV
It is clear that Stellantis and Zip are, as a result, preparing for an electrified future. Last year on the company’s EV Day, Zip announced the “Zero Emission Freedom” tagline. Jeep currently offers four different plug-in hybrid models worldwide, although only the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are offered in the US market. Although so-called 4xe models have been very popular in the market so far, these plug-in hybrids are just a stop-gap measure for the brand’s vision. To get to the future of true zero emissions, Jeep needs to introduce some complete battery electric models in fast fashion if it wants to keep pace with new players in the EV of Road game.
The brand has an ambitious goal of selling the “zero-emission” version of all its vehicles by 2025, so it soon became the reason for the arrival of the Electric Wrangler. In fact, Jeep’s first all-electric model based on the company’s Compass compact crossover is set to launch in early 2023. The transformation of electrification is happening, and with the zip party a little late, it seems eager for the lost time.