Jeep Built a Mind-Blowing Electric Wrangler, But You’ll Never Get One Like This
The Magneto 2.0, which debuted at the Easter Jeep Safari, is a fairy-tale EV with a stick shift
Earlier this year Jeep previewed its first-ever all-electric vehicle. It’s not a Wrangler or a Gladiator, but a practical SUV that looks like the Compass and is slated to launch in 2023. In other words, not all that exciting.
What gives? The entire Jeep brand is built on adventure and excitement, so you’d think their first foray into the EV world — one they’re coming late to — would be a big, bold, splashy affair. Fear not, Jeep wavers, behind the scenes the big guns are being prepped for the main event.
Last year, Jeep previewed the Magneto, an electric SUV concept based on the Wrangler Rubicon, at the annual Easter Safari off-road event in Utah. After that debut, Car and Driver estimated that the brand would bring a production-ready electric Wrangler to customers by 2024. Then this year, the 2022 Easter Jeep Safari saw even more good news: the Magneto 2.0, “a terrain-dominating off-roader that carries you far, far off the beaten path.” Is this closer to the electric Wrangler we can expect soon?
In a press release for the event, for which Jeep produces a slate of new one-off vehicles every year, the company said the Magneto 2.0 features four lithium-ion battery packs with a combined power of 70 kWh, maximum torque up to 850 lb-ft and insane acceleration: “A new electric powertrain calibration maintains the peak amperage for up to 10 seconds — think of it as electronic nitrous oxide — which lets the Magneto 2.0 bolt from 0-60 mph in 2 seconds.”
But the thing that makes the Magneto 2.0 really stand out — not just among the Jeep concepts, but among all production EVs around the world — is its stick shift. Yes, this electric SUV features a unique six-speed manual transmission. Not only is this completely unnecessary in an electric car, it’s actually harder to add one in than go without. But Jeep put in the R&D to craft their own proprietary setup “for ultimate control over the propulsion system.” This was the case in the first Magneto concept last year, and by upgrading the system for the 2.0 model they’ve essentially doubled down on the idea of an EV with a stick.
However, if you think Jeep spending all this time and money means you’ll eventually be able to own your own version of the Magneto 2.0, you’re dead wrong.
Over at The Drive, Kristin Shaw went to this year’s Easter Jeep Safari and got to ride in the new Magneto concept with Jeep boss Jim Morrison. First, he explained the complicated engineering needed to build an electric manual. “At this juncture,” Shaw writes, “Morrison indicates that rowing your own Magneto won’t be an option for the masses. It’s too expensive to build.”
There you have it. Shifting production to electric cars is already a massive financial burden for legacy automakers, and if Car and Driver’s estimates are correct the first electric Wrangler is going to be significantly more expensive than the current base Wrangler, so Jeep isn’t looking to add to their production headaches or the consumer cost. So why even develop an EV with a stick shift at all if it’ll never be offered to regular drivers?
Probably just so they can have something to talk about while everyone else is already delivering EVs to customers in 2022.
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