Jeep and Electrify America are teaming up to put EV chargers in wilder locations, helping drivers of the upcoming 2021 Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid to top-up their batteries while they explore the great outdoors. The Jeep 4xe Charging Network will see trailhead parking fitted out with special Level 2 chargers, some of which will use solar-power to stay off the grid completely.
Public charging networks, like the array of DC fast chargers that Electrify America is already building out across North America, typically stick to the most-traveled routes. As with Tesla’s Supercharger deployment, the primary goal is usually to join up the East and West coasts of the US, before filling in gaps so that electric vehicle drivers can be confident of finishing a road trip without running out of juice along the way.
Part of Jeep’s challenge with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe, however, is convincing SUV traditionalists that a plug-in hybrid Wrangler is up to their exacting standards. It combines a 2.0-liter gas engine with an electric motor, with the 17 kWh battery pack promising up to 21 miles of EV-only driving. In a hybrid mode, the SUV blends gas and electric power for a total of 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.
On a Level 2 charger, topping up the Wrangler 4xe’s battery should take about two hours, Jeep says. Of course, that’s assuming you have access to such a charger, which isn’t currently the case at trailhead parking.
To address that, the automaker will install Jeep-branded charging stations with Electrify America’s help at multiple popular off-road sites this year. That’ll start with Moab, Utah; the Rubicon Trail in Pollock Pines, California; and Big Bear, California this spring. More will be added, near the Jeep Badge of Honor trails, around the US be the end of this year.
Depending on location and the available infrastructure, the stations will either be powered by the grid, or use solar power where possible. A custom app will allow Jeep 4xe owners to initiate and monitor the charging session, and power for them will be free.
Jeep isn’t the only automaker to be thinking about chargers located off the beaten path – and, indeed, how what might traditionally be a gas SUV audience might want to use its EV alternatives. Earlier this month, Rivian announced plans for the Rivian Adventure Network, a series of chargers across North America. In addition to providing power near to highways and main routes, Rivian said, the network will also have chargers located at outdoor leisure hotspots, such as national parks, and along routes between them and nearby metro areas.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is available to order now, priced from $47,995 (plus $1,495 destination) for the Sahara 4xe trim, and $51,695 (plus destination) for the Rubicon 4xe trim. That’s before any federal, state, or local tax credits or incentives.