One of the key characteristics of most electric vehicles is their lack of a gearbox. And one of the characteristics of a Jeep Wrangler is its optional manual gearbox. And that leaves Jeep, a company ready to embrace electrification, at an interesting crossroad with future versions of its iconic Wrangler off-road SUV. But this week is the Jeep Easter Safari, where the craziest Jeep concepts and builds are revealed, and Jeep wanted to prove that they can marry what makes old and current Wranglers great can still translate to the seemingly electric future. Welcome to the fully electric Jeep Wrangler Magneto and its six speed manual transmission.
The Magneto is based on a two door Wrangler, but that’s really where the similarities end. But rather than using a traditional motor at each axle like most other electric vehicles, the Magneto employs an axial flux unit in the same general area as an engine would reside under the hood. The motor makes 273 lb.-ft. of torque and 285 horsepower, about the same as what you’d get with the ubiquitous Pentastar V6.
The four battery packs, all 70 kWh of them, are located strategically where gas powertrain components no longer reside. You can find one in place of the mid-mounted fuel tank, another directly opposite of that, one on top of the motor, one under the motor above the axle, and another under the trunk floor. Interestingly, Jeep isn’t claiming any driving range.
What happens next is the most interesting aspect of the Jeep Wrangler Magneto. The motor sends its power and torque through a two speed transfer case and six speed manual. This isn’t the first EV we’ve seen with multiple forward gears, such as the Porsche Taycan, but it’s certainly the first we’ve heard of to run six, and a manual gearbox. Of course, we’re extremely curious about this, and would love to experience it.
The driver can start off in first without the use of the clutch, because the motor idles at no revs, but the clutch is needed to shift between gears. Because of this, Jeep says it can’t stall when starting out, which should make this one of the easiest manual transmissions to drive. another interesting quirk is during quick-shift scenarios, where the e-motor engages regen upon clutch engagement to prevent rev-hang.
In most aspects, the Jeep Wrangler Magneto has a completely different powertrain than a regular, ICE Wrangler, making it radically different underneath. But all of the electric powertrain components are designed in a way that makes the driving experience very similar to a traditional Pentastar equipped vehicle. Jeep says the transmission is almost the same as the standard six speed, and performance is about the same. With low range gears and six forward gears, the instant torque of electric motors should be far less spikey than other EVs, even the upcoming class off-road EV pickups. Having a traditional 4×4 system should also help, as actual mechanics we know work well manage wheel speed, rather than algorithms.
Outside the fascinating mechanics, the Magneto sports an eye catching white and Surf Blue color scheme, and a front “light bar” that’s less of a light bar than the initial teasers led us to believe. It also has a smattering of Jeep Performance Parts, including a two inch lift. There are also 35 inch mud terrain tires, rad bronze wheels and a Warn winch.
The Jeep Wrangler Magneto Easter Safari concept is a preview of an inbound electric Wrangler that could launch as soon as this year. And if this preview shows us anything, it’s that an electric Jeep is going to be pretty much the same as the Wranglers we know and love, just a whole lot quieter.