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Jeep Magneto 2.0 Concept Drive


MOAB, Utah – “Which way should I go?” I asked Jim Morrison, the head Jeep car brand for North America, as we set off on our Easter Jeep Safari base camp outside Moab, Utah, for a bit of fun up and down with some disgusting looking rock faces.

He glanced at me for a moment, then looked toward the windshield and gestured broadly at the landscape. “It’s not important. One Wrangler over 40 years old can go anywhere”.

Yes, while that may be true, this isn’t the generic Wrangler I’m driving. That’s Magneto 2.0, which is Jeep’s second crack in the all-electric 4×4 concept. Magneto itself is not new, strictly speaking, but it has come a long way in a year. The 1.0 version boasts 285 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; for 2.0, it’s 625 horses and 850 lb-ft now. A Wrangler in his 40s can go anywhere, but we don’t have room to see how fast.

You might be surprised to learn that Jeep didn’t actually upgrade the Magneto’s engine to achieve that output; they are capable of providing all of that. The new rating is a combination of new software parameters for the powertrain and upgraded transmission that can handle the power. There’s a manual transmission – Hellcat-derived and dubbed “Tranzalla”, it’s augmented above and beyond the Hellcat’s duty to handle the Magneto monster’s torque.

One tram With a manual transmission being a new concept there is a reason. Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary. Gearboxes exist to help cars take advantage of the relatively narrow frequency range in which the internal combustion engine produces usable power and torque. That concept is foreign to EV design, at least for most situations, as electric motors generate torque from zero to many, many thousands of RPM before their performance drops. If the internal combustion engine has a power range, then the electric motor has a power range, and that is a large power range.

Interestingly, this makes Magneto’s manual the easiest-to-use book on the planet. Since there is no idle motor for maintenance, it cannot be stopped. The clutch only exists to separate the actuator from the transmission to shift gears, which you never really need to do (again, the power range is virtually limitless). In theory, this should be the most intriguing EV on Earth. In fact, the gearbox is a red herring; you just need to select the number you want and press the gas.

So why bother even putting a pass in this prototype? Well, mainly because it’s not really a prototype, but rather an exercise for Jeep’s engineers as they chart the future of electrified off-road vehicles. Simply install the electric motor and the battery Replacing the Wrangler’s existing Pentastar V6 and gas tank is cheap, easy and quick (relatively, of course) and gives Jeep a testing ground for more focused development. In other words, it was there and it did the job.

Knowing that doesn’t make it any less weird. Muscle memory kicks in every time the Magneto feels as though it might boggle uphill or when climbing over an obstacle. The neurons in a certain dark corner of my brain have fibers in my left leg on high alert, anticipating a protracted and eventual failure that will never happen.

This goes a long way to telling you that Jeep has no intention of building an electric Wrangler with a six-speed transmission, even though I think it would be pretty fun to play with. But in a Jeep, there’s more to movement than just hitting the right road speed for a given engine RPM. Off-roading (climbing on rocks, etc.) requires high torque at low speeds, which is why anyone intending to take on any serious driving action will notice. to a car without a low-speed transmission.

This is really where manual gear ratio control comes in handy, says Morrison. In fact, there are electric cars with two-speed transmissions. Specifically, Porsche Taycan and it Audi Cousin of the E-Tron GT. They come in two gear ratios, with “high” being the default for most drivers, and a lower (larger on the dial) gears engaging in sportier driving modes to allow for quick acceleration. more before shifting into high gear somewhere above 50 mph.

While the mechanical layout is different, PorscheThe implementation works almost identically to the Jeep’s two-speed shifting case. By narrowing the operating speed range even further and using an even shorter “low” gear, Magneto presumptive production is able to 840 pound-feet off the ground from zero RPM with the “red line” still limiting that speed to low single or double digit speeds. If you’ve never been off-road, the concept may sound preposterous to you, but it’s the kind of fine controllable crawler you’ve been dreaming of.

So Magneto is a showcase – a fascinating and quirky introduction, but an introduction nonetheless. Neither this nor anything with this powertrain setup will come close to the production run. But it’s an important sign that Jeep engineers are taking electrification seriously, and (fingers crossed) a sign of what Jeep can achieve in the electrification space.

Next time, maybe they’ll show us how ridiculous it feels to do 0-60 in a Wrangler in less than 3.0 seconds. Whaddaya says, Jim? Shall I have my attorney call your attorney?

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