2011 Jeep EV Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
FAST FACTS
  • New range-extended electric vehicle
  • Based on Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
  • Powered at all times by electricity
  • All-electric range of 40 miles
  • Small gasoline engine charges battery to extend range to 400 miles
  • Half the emissions of a comparable gas-powered vehicle
  • On sale as early as late 2010

Introduction

Chrysler LLC is developing a line of electric-powered vehicles for each of its brands. The is a pure electric vehicle, while the Chrysler and Jeep entries are range-extended electric vehicles that can run on electric power alone for up to 40 miles. These two vehicles will also have a small gasoline engine to recharge the battery and extend the range to 400 miles.

The Jeep product will be a version of the Wrangler Unlimited, the 4-door version of the venerable Wrangler. It will be called the Jeep EV and will come with 4-wheel drive. Chrysler LLC says one of the three new electric vehicles will be available by the end of 2010, but the company isn't divulging which will come first. The others should follow soon thereafter, with other possible electric vehicles to come as well. The company has also announced that up to 100 of these electric vehicles will show up in government, business, utility and development fleets as early as 2009.

The Jeep EV is being developed by Chrysler LLC's in-house organization ENVI. ENVI, which takes its name from the first four letters in "environmental," has been tasked with looking at the future of the automobile without the internal combustion engine. Through ENVI, Chrysler and General Electric are working with the Department of Energy to explore advanced energy storage (battery) technologies. Advances here would make the EV's battery smaller and less expensive.

Model Lineup

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is offered in three trim levels: base X, mid-line Sahara, and off-road oriented Rubicon. We expect the Jeep EV to be outfitted like the Sahara. That means standard features will include stain-resistant cloth upholstery; air conditioning; power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; cruise control; an Infinity sound system with Sirius satellite radio; compass; outside-temperature indicator; skid plates to protect the transfer case and fuel tank; fog lamps; and all-terrain tires on aluminum wheels.

Hardware

The Jeep EV will have a 200-kW (268 hp) electric motor that will generate 295 lb.-ft. of torque. An advanced 27-kWh lithium-ion battery will provide the power to the motor and an integrated power controller will manage energy flow. The EV will be able to run 40 miles on a charge, which according to Chrysler is longer than the commutes of 80 percent of Americans. After the initial 40 miles, the EV will use a 1.0-liter 3- or 4-cylinder engine with an integrated electric generator and an 8-gallon gas tank to charge the battery and extend the range to 400 miles. Power to the wheels will never come from the gasoline engine. Jeep says the EV will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 16.2 seconds. It will also be capable of a top speed of more than 90 mph. According to Jeep, the EV will produce no emissions in the first 40 miles and only half the emissions of a comparable vehicle thereafter.

Safety

The Jeep EV will most likely come with the same safety equipment as the Wrangler Unlimited. Standard features should include 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes; traction control; and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation. Torso-protecting front side air bags will probably be offered as well, and Jeep may also offer a rearview camera.

Technology

Regenerative braking will help recharge the Jeep EV's battery while it's being driven. Owners will be able to fully recharge the battery in eight hours by plugging into a standard 110-volt power outlet or in four hours using a 220-volt household appliance power outlet. Jeep says the current average cost of electricity is the equivalent of about 75 cents per gallon.
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