Spotted: Wrangler Plug-In Hybrid?
Jeepers already know how the spy-photo game is played. An automaker, in this case, Jeep, announces and subsequently teases a future product only to refuse comments about the matter for months. The rumor mill has been working overtime lately with the idea of a Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid – the new powertrain for the Wrangler was initially mentioned by then Jeep CEO Mike Manley at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Now that the rumors phase is in full swing, the vehicle in question is supposed to begin making surprise appearances near engineering or development facilities that are known to attract spy photographers. Seemingly, the old routine went as planned as a suspected Jeep Wrangler Hybrid was recently spotted driving near some testing grounds.
What’s the main feature that gives it away that it’s a plug-in Wrangler? There’s a wrap that runs across the hood if the Wrangler and is fastened down the sides to disguise what could be the charging port. A small bulge can be found on either side where the hood and the fenders meet, although industry experts expect that the plug-in port will be located on the driver’s side.
Of course, a simple wrap intended to disguise some unknown modification is circumstantial evidence at best, but photographers made other observations that point to a hybrid powertrain. Spy photographers present claimed that the suspected Wrangler Hybrid could be seen traveling at speeds up to 25 mph in all-electric mode. The prototype was observed driving in all-electric mode for over four miles before the internal combustion engine initiated and began to work in tandem with the electric motors.
Besides the obvious additional torque of a hybrid powertrain, the automaker is thinking of other ways that the technology may benefit its customers. When speaking to the press, Jeep brand marketing director Scott Tallon revealed this tidbit “But what it also does is provide other benefits – it will allow us to leverage the technology in a completely different way.” Tallon is implying that the Jeep hybrid system could be a two-directional system that would allow owners to use the system as a backup power supply when camping, off-roading, or doing anything else that embodies the Jeep spirit of exploring the unbeaten path. A system like this can even be used as a power supply in an emergency situation.
Industry experts say it is unlikely for Jeep to design an all-new PHEV system for the Wrangler, instead, the automaker will likely use some of the core components from its long distant relative – the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The components in question will be reconfigured to fit the particular needs of the Wrangler, including driving modes and software calibration tailored to off-road-oriented activities. Additionally, engineers have to devise a way to keep the Wrangler just as rugged and just as capable fording up to 30 inches of water like the standard Wrangler.
Judging by these latest developments, the plug-in Wrangler will make its debut sometime later this year, possibly at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Sales are scheduled to launch sometime in 2020, along with a diesel-powered Wrangler as well. Follow The Jeep Experts on social media to stay up to date with the latest Jeep news.