MOAB, Utah — “Which method ought to I’m going?” I ask Jim Morrison, head of the Jeep model for North America, as we depart our Easter Jeep Safari base camp exterior Moab, Utah, for a bit jaunt up and down some gnarly wanting rock faces.
He glances at me for a second, then seems to be towards the windshield and gestures broadly on the panorama. “It doesn’t matter. A Wrangler on 40s can go anyplace.”
True although that could be, that is no generic Wrangler I’m piloting. It’s the Magneto 2.0, which is Jeep’s second crack at an all-electric 4×4 idea. Magneto itself isn’t new, strictly talking, but it surely has come a great distance in a yr. Model 1.0 boasted 285 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; for two.0, that’s now 625 horses and 850 lb-ft. A Wrangler on 40s might be able to go anyplace, however we don’t have room to see how briskly.
It’s possible you’ll be stunned to study that Jeep didn’t really improve the Magneto’s motors to realize that output; they have been able to delivering that each one alongside. The brand new rankings are a mix of recent software program parameters for the powertrain and an upgraded transmission that would deal with the facility. A guide transmission, at that — sourced from a Hellcat and dubbed “Tranzilla,” it’s additional bolstered above and past Hellcat responsibility with a view to deal with the Magneto’s monster torque.
An electrical automobile with a guide gearbox is a novel idea for a motive. Strictly talking, it’s pointless. Transmissions exist to assist vehicles make the most of the comparatively slim band during which inner combustion engines produce usable energy and torque. That idea is alien to EV design, a minimum of for many eventualities, since electrical motors generate torque from zero as much as many, many hundreds of RPM earlier than their effectivity drops off. If combustion engines have an influence band, electrical motors have an influence wedge, and it’s a mighty large one.
The cool half is, this makes the Magneto’s guide the best one on the planet to make use of. Since there’s no engine idle to keep up, it will possibly’t be stalled. The clutch exists solely to decouple the transmission from the driveline with a view to shift gears, which you by no means actually need to do (once more, just about infinite powerband). On paper, this ought to be probably the most partaking EV on Earth. In apply, the gearbox is a pink herring; you merely choose the gear you need and press the throttle.
So, why hassle even placing a transmission on this prototype? Effectively, principally as a result of it’s not likely a prototype in any respect, however relatively an train for Jeep’s engineers as they plot out the way forward for electrified off-roading. Merely plopping electrical motors and batteries rather than the Wrangler’s present Pentastar V6 and gasoline tank was low cost, simple and fast (comparatively talking, after all) and gives Jeep with a testbed for more-focused improvement. In different phrases, it was already there and it did the job.
Figuring out that doesn’t make it any much less bizarre. Muscle reminiscence kicks in each time the Magneto feels prefer it may bathroom down going uphill or when creeping over an impediment. Neurons in some darkish nook of my mind have fibers in my left leg on excessive alert, anticipating the lugging and eventual stall that by no means comes.
That is the great distance round to telling you that Jeep has no intention of constructing an electrical Wrangler with a six-speed gearbox, even when I feel it will be fairly enjoyable to mess around with. However in a Jeep, there’s extra to gearing than simply getting the right highway pace for a given engine RPM. Technical off-roading (rock crawling, and so forth.) calls for excessive torque at low speeds, which is why anyone who plans to do any severe wheeling will flip their nostril up at a car with no low-range gearbox.
This, Morrison says, is certainly the place guide gear ratio management would show helpful. In truth, there are EVs on the market with two-speed transmissions. Particularly, the Porsche Taycan and its Audi E-Tron GT cousin. They’ve two gear ratios, with the “excessive” gear being the default for many driving and a decrease (numerically bigger) ratio partaking in sportier drive modes to permit for faster acceleration earlier than transitioning to excessive gear someplace above 50 mph.
Whereas the mechanical format is completely different, Porsche’s implementation works nearly identically to a Jeep’s two-speed switch case. By narrowing the working pace vary even additional and using a fair shorter “low” gear, a hypothetical manufacturing Magneto may put 840 pound-feet to the bottom from zero RPM with a “redline” that also limits it to single- or low-double-digit speeds. In the event you’ve by no means off-roaded, this notion could sound preposterous to you, but it surely’s the type of nice management rock crawlers dream of.
So, Magneto is a showcase — an enchanting and freaky showcase, however a showcase nonetheless. Neither this nor something with this powertrain setup will come anyplace near manufacturing. Nevertheless it’s an essential signal that Jeep’s engineers are taking electrification severely and (fingers crossed) indicative of what Jeep can accomplish within the electrification area.
Subsequent time, possibly they’ll allow us to see simply how ridiculous if feels to do 0-60 in a Wrangler in beneath 3.0 seconds. Whaddaya say, Jim? I’ll have my legal professionals name your legal professionals?