Isn’t it strange that new ideas are never really new? Once upon a time, somewhere and somehow someone probably came up with a rudimentary version of a similar concept, and for some reason it just didn’t stick. Or maybe it was, but in a fundamental (but often overlooked) way that paved the way for the future. Example: Stellantis has its sights set on electric vehicles and its plans include a Jeep Wrangler EV. But, almost fifteen years ago, Chrysler (the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep at the time) had its eyes set on an eerily similar price? Among a host of electric vehicles and range-extending electric vehicle concepts paraded at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, all intended to usher Chrysler into the electric age, was this Jeep 2010 Wrangler Unlimited. Actually, it was an Extended Range Hybrid Electric Vehicle (EREV), but there was an all-electric version.
It was joined in Detroit by a Chrysler 200C extended range electric vehicle, a Jeep Patriot extended range electric vehicle, a Dodge Circuit electric vehicle and a Chrysler Town & Country extended range electric vehicle. All were primarily battery-electric vehicles assisted by small on-board gasoline generators.
Chrysler described this portfolio of electrified prototypes as “production intent” because the company wanted to make production electric vehicle models across its lineup. It wanted its first electric vehicle produced in 2010, with the hope that three more models would enter production by 2013. Chrysler planned to have half a million electric vehicles on the road by 2013. did one of them have to be an electric Wrangler? Most likely.
The best plans…
Formed in late 2007, Chrysler ENVI – meaning the first four letters of the word “environment” – was the internal organization responsible for the development of Chrysler’s extended range electric and electric vehicles (Chrysler terminology) and associated technologies. ENVI electric drive technology would be suitable for front- and rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive chassis-mounted platforms.
Hear the 2009 rhetoric about ENVI’s work: “ENVI is rapidly bringing electric vehicles to market, completely changing the game for our customers,” said Lou Rhodes, President – ENVI and Vice President – Advance Vehicle Engineering. “Chrysler’s ENVI-powered electric vehicles will enable consumers to move away from their reliance on gas stations and traditional maintenance, and instead enjoy a new level of more socially responsible performance – instant torque, quiet, smooth and efficient – that today’s internal combustion engine vehicles cannot offer.
“ENVI harnesses the promise of electric vehicles, but goes further,” Rhodes added. “Working with electric utilities and with battery manufacturers, we are developing a seamless approach to electric vehicle ownership – one that will soon allow consumers to move forward with flying colors in an intuitive and eco-friendly mobility package. the environment.”
Sounds a bit like 2022, huh? The goal was the same, but the execution was different. Also the timing: The run-up to the 2009 North American International Auto Show, if you recall, was the 2008 plunge into recession following the implosion of the real estate market.
Decent range, decent performance
The electric drive technology used by Chrysler’s ENVI-powered electric vehicles consisted of an electric motor (to drive the wheels), a lithium-ion battery system (to power the electric drive motor), and a controller (to manage the flow of energy). Extended range versions added a small gasoline engine and built-in electric generator that kicked in when the battery level was low. The gasoline engine acted as a generator that supplied electricity to the battery and the electric motor. Pure electric vehicles had a range of 150 to 200 miles; range-extended electric vehicles – which, like the original Fisker Karma, were more like plug-in hybrids – had an all-electric range of 40 miles and a full range of 400 miles (while using only 8-10 gallons of gasoline) thanks to the range extender, according to Chrysler optimistically. All-electric and range-extended vehicles are charged using 110-volt or 220-volt outlets.
Draped in a new coat of ENVI Green Pearl exterior paint and sporting prominent EV graphics on its sides, the Jeep Wrangler EV Unlimited range-extending electric prototype was two-wheel-drive, although ENVI was starting to play around with four-wheel-drive and in- wheel electric motors at the time. The electric motor in its ENVI powertrain produced 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It had regenerative braking. The range extender was a SULEV gasoline engine and electric generator producing 70 kW (94 hp) of continuous electrical power.
Jeep reports these performance stats for the Jeep Wrangler EV: 0-60 in about 9.0 seconds; quarter mile in about 16.5 seconds; and a top speed that peaked at 90 mph. None of those numbers were terribly far from what a standard V-6-powered JK-generation Wrangler was capable of. They also shadow almost exactly those of the first two-door Magneto concept Jeep showed off at last year’s Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, a converted electric Wrangler with a new manual transmission.
So this is it. The Jeep Wrangler EV of yesteryear had hypothetical optimistic range stats, but it wouldn’t be competitive in terms of performance and technology with the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid (which combines a 2.0-litre turbo engine with a 17 kWh battery motor, two electric motors and an eight-speed automatic transmission, good for a net output of 375 hp and 470 lb-ft), not to mention the Wrangler Magneto 2.0 Concept (which instantly delivers 625 hp and 850 lb -ft of maximum torque).
In all likelihood, it would also pale in comparison to the next production electric Wrangler coming in 2024. That model is expected to have integrated batteries tucked between presumably modified frame rails, and possibly even axles with electric motors built into it. front and rear, rather than a single motor driving the transmission and transfer case as a traditional motor would, even though this is the basic Magneto layout. The 2010 Wrangler EV, however, helped pave the way for the 13-year (and counting) journey to the Jeep Wrangler EV of the future, when hopefully this new one doesn’t come with so much macroeconomic baggage.
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