Jeep shows off the Magneto, its Wrangler EV prototype

Credit: Jeep

Jeep recently showed off its new EV prototypes based on the Jeep Wrangler, and the prototypes are called the Magneto and Magneto 2.0.

According to Motor Trend, Jeep displayed its Wrangler EV prototypes at its safari launch event. The vehicles were named Magneto and Magneto 2.0 and built off existing gas-powered Jeep Wrangler architecture, employing much of the same bodywork, interior, and even 4×4 system. The brand plans a 2024 release date for the vehicle’s production version, but it will likely not be its first EV.

The two prototype vehicles showed off impressive and somewhat unique specifications. Starting with the Magneto, based on the two-door Jeep Wrangler, the vehicle featured a manual transmission and 2-speed transfer case, both taken off of the gas-powered variant of the Jeep Wrangler. The 4×4 system was then hooked up to a single motor in the engine bay, producing 285 horsepower and 273-pound-feet of torque. A 70kWh battery powered the motor.

The Magneto 2.0 offered a significant upgrade; using a similar two-door Jeep Wrangler body, Jeep upgraded the vehicle with an 800-volt architecture and a more powerful motor. The second iteration of the Jeep Wrangler Magneto produced 625 horsepower and 850-pound-feet of torque.

Jeep is certainly staying true to its roots with the Magneto prototypes, but their dedication to Jeep’s heritage technology will likely pose challenges for them in the future. First, using the manual transmission and transfer case means that the vehicle is far heavier and must work the motor harder to overcome inefficiencies by going through the system. The traditional 4×4 system also means that the vehicle is far more complex and contains far more failure points than a direct drive alternative.

Jeep didn’t comment on the possible advantages of their system, and it is certainly true that they would not be the only manufacturer introducing traditional transmission technology to EVs. The Porsche Taycan has a two-speed gearbox, for example. However, Jeep’s approach remains unique.

The second issue Jeep will face has more to do with design language. Due to the Jeep’s lackluster aerodynamics, the vehicle will work far harder to punch through the air rather than cut through it (though the tag line “don’t cut through the air, punch it” does have a certain ring to it). On top of this, the vehicle’s large grippy tires mean yet another inefficiency is added to the system.

Doing some basic napkin math, with the 70kWh battery, if the vehicle must overcome so many inefficiencies, it would be surprising to see it achieve more than 2 miles per kW, giving the prototype a hypothetical range of only 140 miles. That said, the Jeep Wrangler Magneto 2.0 featured a higher voltage architecture that could allow incredibly fast charging and a production model would likely fit a larger battery system if it were designed off a new, independent platform instead.

It has always been true that Jeep buyers are buying more than a vehicle; they are buying into an idea, a lifestyle, and even a not-so-secret wave to other Jeep drivers. However, with the introduction of EV technology, Jeep buyers may be compromising more than ever.

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Jeep shows off the Magneto, its Wrangler EV prototype
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