The Jeep Wrangler off-road SUV is going to get an electric option.
The automaker plans to launch a plug-in hybrid powertrain version in 2020, the division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The plug-in Wrangler will feature a range-extending engine. No specifications were provided by the company.
“We have to make sure that the Wrangler has a long and healthy future,” Jeep head Mike Manley told Trucks.com.
To do that, Jeep needs to look ahead to future regulations that will govern fuel economy and CO2 emissions standards, Manley said. The brand will also need to remain competitive in the process.
“Electrification is therefore naturally part of the future lineup for Wrangler,” he said.
Jeep had previously announced that the new 2018 Wrangler will be available with a mild hybrid system called eTorque. It allows the turbocharged four-cylinder engine to shut down as the vehicle coasts to a stop. It can store energy through regenerative braking and use it to start the vehicle under electric power.
The eTorque system debuts a new 48-volt battery for FCA.
The plug-in hybrid powertrain will require an entirely different system. No vehicle as rugged as a Jeep Wrangler combines plug-in capability with a range extender. The most notable adopters include the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 sedans.
FCA currently makes the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan. It can travel 33 miles on electric power and has a lithium-ion battery pack with 16-kWh. Its 3.6-liter V6 engine brings total range to 566 miles. However, it is not considered a range extender.
Jeep did not disclose the size of the battery in the plug-in Wrangler. Nor did it reveal how the battery will be sourced. It is also unknown what motor will serve as the range extender.
Manley did make it clear that electric powertrains play an important role in Jeep’s future. Due to its ability to deliver instant torque, Manley called electrification “a natural fit” for the brand.