By on March 8, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Fiat Chrysler intends to make the upcoming 2018 Wrangler a Jeep for everyone — single adventurers, families, cargo haulers and those whose hearts bleed at the thought of environmental harm — but it’s the latter category of buyer that Jeep isn’t quite sure how to please.

While the 2018 Wrangler remains on track for production late this year, the automaker recently pushed back the introduction of the much-anticipated pickup version. It now looks like any hybrid variant is also a ways off. That means buyers who hoped to emit slightly fewer hydrocarbons while crushing saplings and insects will need to wait before they save the planet.

Speaking to Auto Express at the Geneva Motor Show, Jeep head Mike Manley confirmed that there are still plans for a hybrid version of the next-generation Jeep. However, those plans don’t seem overly fleshed out.

Before it can put a hybrid Wrangler into production, FCA must first decide just how much electrification the model — and its potential buyers — can handle.

“We have continued our studies on hybridization for the Wrangler, and it’s a balance for us. Obviously there are loads of different hybrid technologies, from mild to 48v through to full battery-electric,” Manley said after confirming the model’s future existence.

“For the Wrangler you need to strike the right balance; we don’t want to do something that will leave you stranded on a hillside,” he continued. “So for me, full battery EV is not a great fit. But hybridization works well with the brand because of the attributes that come with electric equipment – not just the torque, but also the control.”

Sorry, tree embracers, electric Jeeps will remain the domain of Mattel for the foreseeable future.

While the automaker hasn’t graced us with a rendering or prototype, we know that the 2018 Wrangler will make greater use of aluminum in order to shed weight, coupled with fuel economy-minded aerodynamic improvements. Expect a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder among the available powerplants.

Production of the pickup variant isn’t scheduled to kick off until late 2019, and it’s nearly certain that a hybrid version would lag the basic Wrangler by at least a model year. The next-gen Wrangler is poised to spawn a multi-year roll-out of new models.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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19 Comments on “Hybrid Wrangler on the Way, But Jeep Boss Still Isn’t Sure What Kind...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Manley’s Musings: Wrangling without Worry in the Iconic ICE.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    An electric motor would be perfect for off-roading. Infinitely variable traction control that doesn’t use the brakes to slow the spinning wheel or require both wheels to move at the same speed even if one is digging in.

    An electric/diesel with solid axles– be still my heart.

  • avatar
    AdventureSteve

    On the subject of being stranded, full floating axles would be nice while you’re at it, Mr. Manley :-) With locking hubs in front…

  • avatar
    RHD

    Why are they using cladding on the test mule? Everyone knows what it will look like, which is exactly like it has for decades.

  • avatar
    TW5

    CAFE 2025 on parade. Completely inane implementation of technullogy at great expense to the consumer without any particular impact on CO2 emissions. You’re pushing a barn door through the air at highway speed. The hybrid system isn’t going to save any trees.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      Hybrid systems are most helpful in stop-and-go traffic, not on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        You don’t drive Wranglers in traffic, and the hybrid system isn’t going to help offroad. It’s regulatory silliness.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          What do you mean, “you”? Most buyers of Wranglers do, in fact, drive them more on-road than off.

          And how wouldn’t a hybrid system help off-road? It could stay in full-electric mode for 100% torque.

        • 0 avatar
          afedaken

          @TW5

          That’s just silly. The vast majority of brand new Wranglers spend more time on pavement than any other surface.

          Leaving that aside, the Wrangler is just crying out for more efficiency. If green is your concern, you’ll do more of it by increasing the efficiency of a low efficiency vehicle than a high efficiency vehicle.

          Getting 5MPG more on the wrangler does a lot more than getting 5MPG more on an already 30MPG sedan.

          And that’s just the highway. There’s the question of electrical system use off-road.

          Putting the fronts on Electrics and the rears on the gas motor, and you’ve could ELIMINATE THE TRANSFER CASE, A DRIVE SHAFT, AND AN ENTIRE DIFFERENTIAL. Make the electrics the rear, mount the engine longitudinally, and you can ELIMINATE THE OTHER DRIVESHAFT.

          That’s quite a few pounds. The Prius has a 100-ish lb battery pack. The NP242 transfer case is 85lbs on its own, before we account for the deleted driveshaft, differential and axles.

          Assume that we eat most of those pounds back up with a bigger battery pack. (Or the same size battery pack, and we’ll toss in a nice onboard compressor since we’ve got lots of juice to power it.) There’s still the efficiency gained by the regenerative breaking, which actually works better in larger, heavier vehicles.

          Oh, and those driveshafts and diffs you just pulled out? That’s extra clearance underneath. Who doesn’t want what amounts to a free lift kit?

          And then there’s all the neat stuff you can do with torque vectoring, or just the plain old massive amounts of torque available with electric motors. On-road, this could help tame some of the Wrangler’s road manners, and help in inclement conditions. Off-road…

          …well first there’s the torque and the torque and the torque. But let’s say you’re not a rock climber.

          Did you accidentally lift one of the electric wheels? Never mind an LSD, how about a NDD? (Now-Deleted-Differential) No-diff = no-problem. Cut the current to the one in the air, and just let the other one drag you across.

          Fording, and worried about taking water into your intake? Let the electrics do the job.

          And those regenerative breaks? That’s gonna be the best hill-descent system ever.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            So we’re going delete the transfer cases and driveshafts without adding any additional weight for electric motors? It’s just the battery.

            Furthermore, the misuse of the Wrangler is not a reason to alter the design. If a bunch of idiots are trying to eat peas with a knife, you don’t turn a knife into a spoon. You tell them to quit being idiots for the sake of everyone who needs a knife. CAFE is not so clever.

        • 0 avatar
          afedaken

          @TW5

          For some reason wordpress is not letting me reply to your later reply, so here it goes. Apologies if its a bit hard to follow

          Regarding motor weight, yes I’m guessing that electrics are going to be lighter than the typical running gear under a Jeep. Protean has wheel hub motors in automotive sizes that come in at 68lbs per wheel. Direct drive, no gearbox required. And per their specs, that’s at 72HP and 514ftlb per wheel.

          The one part I’m not entirely clear on is what kind of weight penalty is associated with the motor controllers and inverters to run the thing. But with a stock Dana 44 coming in at 220-ish lbs, you still have about 80lbs to play with before you reach parity with the electrics. And realistically, if you were sending that kind of torque through a diff to the wheels, you’d be using a Dana 60 which is another 40lbs or so heavier than the 44.

          Now i’ll grant, the Wrangler really isn’t the best choice for on-road driving. But not everyone wants the hassle and expense of multiple vehicles, and as a “lifestyle” vehicle, lets be honest. Folks are going to want to show it off.

          Is that idiocy? Sure in some contexts. If it gets me a nice hybrid Wrangler, bring on the stupid please! :-)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I sense some FUD here. Truly, the design of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (or any 2018 product) should already be done, with tooling underway. If Jeep doesn’t know what kind of hybrid tech they’re going to use, they’re either a)clueless, or b)lying.

    My suggestion: only a standard hybrid will do – no plug-in or full electric, since both are incompatible with the Jeep use case and image.

    And, as Big Al From ‘Murica suggested, the hybrid battery would be great for providing some off-road electrical power. But, doing the math, my Optima Hybrid battery would only be good for running a toaster for a half hour. It’s only 1.6 kWh, usually kept at half-full.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I sense some FUD here. Truly, the design of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (or any 2018 product) should already be done, with tooling underway. If Jeep doesn’t know what kind of hybrid tech they’re going to use, they’re either a)clueless, or b)lying.”

      no, the most likely option is c) a hybrid Wrangler isn’t going to arrive until 2020-2022. nobody, not even the article itself, said there would be a 2018 Wrangler hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      markogts

      I beg to differ, SCE. Exactly for the purpose of having camping electricity it would be wise to have a big battery AND a plug. Chademo is reversible, don’t kbow for CCS, but should be too.

  • avatar
    sooperedd

    Having sold our Prius today and running some errands in our new Renegade I had the thought that it would make a great Hybrid. FCA is real late to the Hybrid/EV game.

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