It may seem like science fiction, but the next revolution of the automotive future relies on the electric motor. Electric vehicles and hybrid drivetrains are becoming more and more popular each year. More customers are turning to electric options as viable daily commuters to get them around without the hassle (and cost) of visiting the gas station each week just to fill up. Environmental benefits aside, there’s a lot to an electric drivetrain that offers people an exciting and more efficient driving experience than traditional combustion engines. While it has been easy to see the advantages of an electric engine for fuel economy some still view an electric motor as a limitation. This is no more apparent than in the world of off-road vehicles. When Jeep recently made the announcement of an electric Wrangler in the near future it certainly raised the eyebrows of those suspicious of the off road capabilities of an electric motor. Since driving off road provides many different challenges than on paved roads, vehicles meant for off roading need the right equipment to get the job done safely and effectively. Jeep has long been a well-known leader in automotive off-road design, so the question remains: is the idea of an all electric Wrangler far-fetched or does the use of an electric motor for off-road driving have some merit? Is the lineup of Jeep models and its loyal following of enthusiast ready for hybrid or electric Wranglers?
When you look to the advantages of an electric motor, you will quickly discover that Jeep is on the right track.
An all electric drivetrain is very different from a traditional combustion engine and transmission. Whereas a combustion engine relies on gasoline to drive pistons, which in turn drives the axle to propel the wheels, an electric motor and battery are much simpler in design. Electricity from the battery drives the motor which magnetically turns the axles. This naturally eliminates the need for fuel, but there are other hidden advantages you will not discover unless you’re behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.
The biggest advantage, particularly for off-road, is instant power. A traditional combustion engine relies on a significant amount of mechanical components to deliver the power to the wheels. This means that the amount of power the engine can pump out is not the same amount the wheels receive. Power is lost to heat, friction, and other forces along the entire drivetrain draining the vehicle of the performance needed for off-road adventures.
Electric motors are different since they rely on fewer physical moving parts. Magnetically driving the axle involves less friction and heat so more power is transferred directly to the wheels. While the electrical systems themselves are more sophisticated and complicated the physical drive motors and the process of transmitting power to the wheels is often a much more straightforward process. This added boost in performance should leave no trail in your path that cant be conquered.
An electric motor is also nearly instantaneous in its delivery of the power. Forget the days where you have to consistently rev the engine before getting to the point where the motor can power over challenging obstacles. With an electric motor, the moment you step on the pedal, the full range of torque and horsepower available can be delivered to the wheels. This makes an electric powered Jeep Wrangler more responsive, capable, and more fun on the trails or on the road.
The thing that has really makes the Jeep Wrangler stand out above other off-roading options is its history of reliability, durability, and longevity. First built as a combat vehicle for the military, the Wrangler has changed little in how much abuse it can handle without failing.
An electric Wrangler promises to be even more reliable thanks to the inherently simple design of an electric motor. With traditional combustion engines, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of moving parts that must be choreographed in sync to work properly. While driving in an off-road environment, the typical bumps and bruises a vehicle will experience can damage any number of important drivetrain components.
With an electric motor, things are different. An electric motor uses less physical parts to produce power. In fact, the motor/battery combination uses more wiring and solid connections than moving parts. This means there is less to break when the motor encounters a rough ride. Parts that you could damage tend to be easier to repair or replace as well.
In an off-road environment, durability and longevity are crucial to survival and success. Unless you have the ability to carry the right spare part if something goes wrong, a small failure or accident can leave you stranded out with no hope of rescue. When you have the reliability of an electric motor, however, the possibility of facing such a worst-case scenario drastically decreases.
The Future Of The Wrangler
For those opposed to the idea of an all electric Wrangler, rest assured the Jeep isn’t changing anything anytime soon. Recognizing they have a highly successful design, the company plans to roll out the all electric version slowly in addition to their existing gas-powered model offerings.
While it may take some time to win over those leary of an electric powered Wrangler it most definitely will be a winner, on the road or on the trails. As more and more people discover the advantages an electric motor/battery setup offers on or off the road, this new technology may quickly become a standard in automotive design. Best of all, this new technology also has more possibilities to offer in the future.
As battery technology improves, for example, you can look forward to longer and longer off-road trips without the need to fuel up. Solar charging and portable batteries will also help to extend the range of the Wrangler for the trips where there is no other fuel source insight. This will give drivers the ability to go further, deeper, and longer than ever before.
As with anything else, the choice of the perfect engine is a personal preference. To really decide if an electric Wrangler will be right for you, you’ll have to wait to get your hands on one for a test drive. Until that time, keep dreaming about a vehicle that just may revolutionize the way off-road manufacturers design their models.