The debut of the new JL Jeep Wrangler has sparked a lot of interest in the powertrain department. We know that a diesel option will be available sometime next year, but some have questioned whether the iconic off-roader would ever receive a hybrid electric option. Jeep CEO Mike Manley, told Motor Authority "Electrification was always on the books for Jeep--it was inevitable," just moments before taking the stage at the LA Auto Show.
On stage, he officially announced that Jeep would sell a plug-in hybrid model in 2020. This announcement may come as a surprise to many, but with the new model coming out in a few months, planning for batteries and motors had to be involved in the development stages years ago. Manley added this in his interview with Motor Authority:
"There are (problems) if you don't think about things in advance--for sure. Packaging the batteries are very, very important, not just because you want to make sure that they're not intrusive to the consumer space. For a vehicle like Wrangler, we also want to make sure that we maintain Wrangler's balance. When we were working on this platform we wanted to make sure that it was future-proofed...and so it was an important part of this Wrangler."
Manley didn't discuss any details on battery size, placement or four-wheel drive configuration, but Car and Driver reported last week that the Wrangler would adopt some powertrain systems from the Hybrid Pacifica including the eFlight transaxle, and an outboard plug that could draw power from the vehicle's battery.
Much like the diesel option, Wrangler fans should rejoice with the news of a hybrid powertrain. Electric hybrid vehicles are known for their added low-end torque which would complement an off-roading vehicle very well.
"It's important for Jeep to continue to be relevant and compliant. When I think about electrification, if we use it properly it can enhance the capability. If not, then what's the point?" Manley added.