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Jeep: Electric vehicles won’t make off-roading less fun

Jeep isn’t worried its eventual electric SUVs will take the challenge out of off-roading, as drivers will “just find a harder trail”.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
Journalist
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Jeep says it isn’t concerned electric vehicles will take the challenge out of off-roading.

“I’m not worried about it,” said Jeep Exterior Design head Mark Allen.

“We’re making it too easy for people. They’ll just find a harder trail.”

Mr Allen also highlighted the possibilities of EVs for off-roading, in particular the ability to control the four wheels individually plus the glut of low-end torque.

He also cited the possibility for additional drive modes, including one with such a heavy level of regenerative braking that a driver could go down a very steep incline without needing to ever touch the brake.

Mr Allen pointed to how many differing levels of difficulty already exist in off-roading, and how commonplace large off-road tyres have gotten.

Jeep says plans for an electric Wrangler aren’t in place yet, but this year’s Magneto concept is “kind of an open door to the laboratory”.

The brand also revealed an electric Wrangler concept bearing the Magneto name at last year’s Easter Jeep Safari, also featuring a manual transmission.

While Easter Jeep Safari concepts almost never reach production, Jeep says learnings from their development will often be used in production vehicles.

“I’m also convinced that the range and charging issues, weight and complexity are going to go away as we get further down the road,” said Mr Allen.

“I’m also really encouraged by the wide, open-arm reception that we got last year for Magneto and the future that electric holds for off road. Not scared of it.”

Jeep appears to have at least two EVs in the works.

Parent Stellantis previewed in wireframe a range of models on its STLA Large architecture last year.

One was a “very capable” off-roading “whitespace vehicle”, complete with blocky styling and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel, while the other was a sleeker SUV potentially smaller than the Grand Cherokee.

MORE: Stellantis details upcoming electric Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles

The company has already rolled out plug-in hybrid powertrains – bearing the 4xe branding – across much of its range.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe has been confirmed for an Australian launch, potentially in late 2022, but thus far the 4xe versions of the Renegade, Compass and Wrangler remain off the table for us.

Jeep previewed a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe as part of this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, however it’s only a concept at this stage.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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