The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid combines limited zero-emission driving with rugged off-road capability.
But there aren't many places to plug in out in the wilderness.
It appears Jeep has thought of that. The automaker plans to build solar-powered charging stations on off-road trails in California and Utah, Jeep North American boss Jim Morrison said in an interview with CNET Thursday.
Locations will include Rubicon Springs, the halfway point of the famous Rubicon Trail (which lends its name to a Wrangler trim level), as well as select trails in Moab, Utah, a popular location for off-roading where Jeep enthusiasts host an annual Easter Safari.
With 25 miles of all-electric range, the Wrangler 4xe should be able to complete many trails with fully-charged battery pack. The Rubicon Trail is only 22 miles long, and a Wrangler 4xe covered it entirely on electric power with no issues, Morrison said.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
The trailside charging stations could provide a helpful backup for drivers that arrive at the trailhead without a fully-charged pack. They'll also help lay the groundwork for future all-electric Jeeps.
Charging stations will likely be Level 2, meaning they will take about 2 hours to recharge the Wrangler's 17.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack, according to Jeep. That pack consists of 96 Samsung prismatic cells and is mounted under the rear passenger seats. It sends power to a main traction motor positioned at the transmission input shaft, as well as a belt-connected motor-generator. These elements combine with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 gasoline engine to make 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque—the highest output of any Wrangler.
Jeep's Level 2 charging stations might be a good complement to the adventure-location fast-charging stations being put up by Rivian.
While Jeep Wranglers will have a tank of gasoline as their backup, rather than fast-charging, the all-electric Rivian R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV will likely be available with an accessory battery backup and/or truck-to-truck charging options.