AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It's happened, Jeep fans: Thursday marked the reveal of the new 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe - a plug-in-hybrid - and the return of the Wagoneer, which was last produced in 1991.
Jeep unveiled the new 2021 Wrangler 4xe model at 9 a.m. on Thursday. The event marked the return of Wagoneer, which Jeep describes as "a premium American icon."
With the 4xe, Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand is going electric. The new Wrangler is the first of what Fiat Chrysler says will be many Jeeps powered by batteries.
The main reason driving the new offerings likely is FCA’s obligation to meet fuel economy and pollution regulations in Europe, China, and the U.S. or face stiff fines or steep costs to buy electric vehicle credits from companies like Tesla.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is the brand's first vehicle that can travel on electricity in the U.S. The gas-electric hybrid SUV can go 25 miles on battery power before a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine takes over. Fiat Chrysler says in a few years all Jeep models will have battery-power options.
The event, streamed online, was available for public viewing below and at www.youtube.com/Jeep.
RETURN OF JEEP WAGONEER
At the other end of the spectrum, Fiat Chrysler also announced that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer full-size SUVs will return next year. The company showed off a Grand Wagoneer concept vehicle with a fully electric powertrain.
The new Wagoneer is scheduled to go into production in the second quarter of next year. The Jeep has released a few "teaser" photos of the new Wagoneer including its new glass roof and a shiny, chrome-filled interior color scheme.
The vehicle will have three rows of seats and is expected to be built on the same chassis as a Dodge Ram 1500. The SUV will come in both Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models.
2021 WRANGLER 4XE
The Toledo-built Wrangler 4xe is expected to offer up to 31 miles of electric-only driving and is incredibly quiet due to being plug-in powered.
According to MotorTrend, the Wrangler 4xe will be built at the Toledo Assembly Plant, while the Toledo Machining Plant will make the plug-in's power module, install the software, and conduct final testing before the units are sent to the vehicle assembly plant.
The price for the plug-in wasn’t revealed, but it will surely be a premium over the gas-powered version. A four-door model for 2021 starts at $31,795 excluding shipping.
It’s not clear if there’s a big market yet for a plug-in Wrangler, or any electric vehicles for that matter, said Guidehouse analyst Sam Abuelsamid. Last year in the U.S., only 310,000 plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles were sold, less than 2% of the market.
But the plug-in Wrangler does hold some appeal.
“There are a lot of Jeep owners, people who go off-roading, who also want to preserve the environment where they go off-roading,” Abuelsamid said.
The company touts the new electric Wrangler as quiet enough to sneak up on the outdoors, saying drivers will experience "less sound, more nature" with the plug-and-play offroader.