Ford has teased hands-free driving capability for a while, and on Wednesday revealed the first details about its system, including the name: BlueCruise.
The software will enable drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and let the car do most of the work on more than 100,000 miles of North American highways, Ford said. Certain 2021 F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach-E crossovers can gain access to BlueCruise later in 2021 through an over-the-air software update.
BlueCruise builds on Ford’s existing driver-assistance suite, using radar sensors and cameras to keep a car in its lane, maintain a safe distance from other cars, and read speed limit signs. Drivers can switch on the system when they enter so-called “Hands-Free Blue Zones,” and the system lets drivers know when they’re on a qualifying road through blue lighting on the instrument cluster.
Like Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise, BlueCruise is an SAE Level 2 driver-assistance system that isn’t fully autonomous and requires full driver attention. A driver-facing camera mounted above the steering wheel monitors a driver’s head position and eyes to ensure they’re paying attention to the road, similar to Super Cruise. Tesla, on the other hand, requires drivers to place a hand on the steering wheel rather than monitoring their gaze.
Tesla, despite facing mounting scrutiny over Autopilot’s branding and its role in several recent car crashes, is one of the top companies to beat when it comes to driver-assist technology, and Ford acknowledges that. Ford on Wednesday said BlueCruise is “similar to Tesla Autopilot but with the advantage of offering a true hands-free driving experience.”
In a Wednesday tweet announcing BlueCruise, Ford CEO Jim Farley took a dig at Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” software, a successor to Autopilot that the firm is beta testing using thousands of its own customers on public roads.
“BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to,” Farley said.
Ford said its engineers have completed more than 500,000 miles of testing using BlueCruise, including 110,000 miles during a road trip that took 10 vehicles across 37 US states and five Canadian provinces.
BlueCruise comes standard on the Mustang Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium, and First Edition models. It’s available as an option on the Select trim for buyers who spend $2,600 on a “Comfort and Technology” package along with $600 on a three-year subscription to the system.
For most F-150s, BlueCruise will cost $995 for the underlying tech package, along with the $600 software fee.
At some point down the line, Ford plans to add more advanced capabilities like automated lane changes. It also aims to regularly update the system with thousands of additional miles of compatible roads.
The brand on Wednesday announced that the 2022 MX-30 is heading stateside in fall 2021, starting with dealers in California. It will share details like pricing and range closer to when the electric vehicle goes on sale.
Revealed in 2019 and already on sale outside of the US, the MX-30 is Mazda’s quirky first stab at an EV. The compact crossover has five seats and odd rear half-doors like you’d find in a BMW i3 or a Honda Element. It has a similar size and shape to Mazda’s gas-powered CX-30.
The US version of the car, Mazda said, will have a 35.5-kWh battery pack, 144 horsepower, and 200 lb-ft of torque. The battery can be charged from 20% to 80% in around 36 minutes using a DC fast charger, according to Mazda.
The company didn’t release an official range figure, but the European-market MX-30 (which comes with the same sized battery) can travel 124 miles on a charge, according to the European WLTP standards. The US EPA tends to give more conservative range ratings, so the MX-30 will likely go on sale in the US with an estimated range of around 100 miles.
That’s fairly low by today’s standards, as several sub-$35,000 EVs can travel well over 200 miles on a charge. It indicates that Mazda is targeting the MX-30 at urban buyers who don’t need to drive very far at a time.
Mazda plans to follow up the battery-powered MX-30 with a plug-in hybrid version equipped with a rotary generator. That model should satisfy buyers looking for more range. A larger plug-in hybrid model along with a traditional hybrid crossover are in the works as well, Mazda said.
With price changes on a constant basis, it can be tough to keep track of it all. Those shopping for a new Tesla can consult this guide to understand the latest prices of the Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y, and how the models stack up.
Although add-ons vary between models, any Tesla can be optioned with the $10,000 “full self-driving” driver-assistance package, which doesn’t currently make Teslas fully autonomous.
Launched in 2012, the Model S sedan is Tesla’s longest-running model. The luxury four-door got an overhaul at the top of 2021, which included an updated exterior and a controversial new steering yoke. It’s the choice for EV buyers who have a little more to spend and don’t want a crossover.
Here’s how each Model S breaks down:
Long Range: For $79,990, the base Model S delivers an estimated range of 375 miles, a top speed of 155 mph, and a 0-60-mph time of 3.1 seconds.
Plaid: The $119,990 Model S Plaid, whose name is a reference to the movie “Space Balls,” travels 350 miles on a charge, hits a top speed of 200 mph, and sprints to 60 mph in 1.99 seconds, Tesla says. Both Plaid models have three motors good for more than 1,000 horsepower.
Plaid Plus: The $149,990 Plaid Plus is the most advanced Model S yet. Tesla says it will do 0-60 mph in under two seconds, has a top speed of 200 mph, and has a range of more than 520 miles. Deliveries are set to start in 2022.
A paint color other than white will run you $1,500 to $2,500, 21-inch wheels cost $4,500, and a white or off-white interior costs $2,500.
With the debut of the Model 3 in 2017, Tesla made good on its promise to build a more affordable vehicle than the Model S or Model X that came before it. And since it launched, the Model 3 has proved wildly successful, becoming both Tesla’s most popular model and the overall best-selling EV in the world in 2020.
The Model 3 comes in three flavors:
Standard Range Plus: The $38,490 base Model 3 gets an estimated range of 263 miles, a top speed of 140 mph, and a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds.
Long Range: The $47,490 Long Range model has an EPA-estimated range of 353 miles
Performance: For $56,990, the sporty Model 3 Performance delivers a 315-mile range, a top speed of 162 mph, and a 0-60-mph time of 3.1 seconds. It also has a lowered suspension, better brakes, and 20-inch wheels as standard.
A paint color other than white will set you back $1,000 to $2,000, 19-inch rims cost $1,500, and a white interior – as opposed to the standard black – costs a $1,000 premium.
The Model X crossover is Tesla’s second-oldest model behind the Model S. It hit the market in 2015.
There are two versions of the Model X:
Long Range: For $89,990, the dual-motor base Model X delivers 350 miles of estimated range and a 155-mph top speed.
Plaid: The $119,990 Plaid version steps things up a notch with three motors that Tesla says put out 1,020 horsepower. Tesla says the high-performance crossover will have a 330-mile range and a 0-60-mph time of 2.5 seconds when deliveries start in May.
Like on Tesla’s other vehicles, a white paint job comes standard – black, silver, blue, or red will run you $1,500 to $2,500. Five seats come standard, and a six-seat or seven-seat layout costs $6,500 and $3,500, respectively.
A white or cream interior costs $2,000, while bigger rims go for $5,500.
Starting deliveries in early 2020, the Model Y compact crossover is Tesla’s newest vehicle. It’s based on the same platform as the Model 3, but has more cargo capacity, rides higher, and has a general shape more like the Model X. It’s proving to be a hot seller just like its sedan sibling.
The Model Y comes in two versions:
Long Range: The $50,490 base vehicle has an EPA-estimated range of 326 miles, a top speed of 135 mph, and makes the sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
Performance: The sportier option costs $60,990, and although it gets a lower range of 303 miles, it makes up for it in performance upgrades. The crossover accelerates to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, has a higher top speed, and comes with bigger wheels, better brakes, and a lowered suspension.
There’s also a more affordable Standard Range model that Tesla briefly sold starting in January. Elon Musk said on Twitter it’s still available as an off-menu option.
Buyers can shell out an extra $1,000 for a tow hitch, $1,000 for a white interior, and $3,000 for third-row seating. A non-white paint job costs $1,000 to $2,000, while bigger rims command $2,000.
General Motors has teased for months that its upcoming electric pickup truck, the GMC Hummer EV, would gain an SUV stablemate at some point down the line. Now it’s finally here.
GMC offered the first real glimpse of the 2024 Hummer EV SUV on Saturday in a commercial that aired during the NCAA Final Four. The so-called “supertruck” is available to reserve now, and the first models will hit streets in early 2023, GMC said.
Like its pickup sibling that debuted in October, the Hummer EV SUV comes packed with features targeted at off-roading. Saturday’s LeBron James-narrated spot highlighted capabilities like “extract mode,” which lifts the vehicle by several inches at the push of a button, and “crab walk,” which turns all four wheels so the SUV can drive diagonally.
The Hummer EV SUV debuts with a roughly $106,000 “Edition 1” model that will be available in early 2023, and an available off-road package brings the Edition 1’s MSRP to just over $110,000. The Edition 1 will deliver up to 830 horsepower and a range of at least 300 miles, GMC said.
As with the pickup version, GMC plans to sell a series of more affordable Hummer SUV models following the Edition 1’s launch.
The EV2x and EV3x versions, which will cost $90,000 and $100,000, respectively, will hit the market in spring 2023. A base-model EV2 version will sell for $80,000 starting in 2024, offering at least 250 miles of range and up to 625 horsepower, GMC said.
Those high price tags mean that despite its promises of off-road capability, the Hummer EV SUV is more likely to steal shoppers away from a high-end Mercedes G-Wagen or Range Rover than from a rugged Jeep Wrangler.
GMC said it will release additional information about the new model on Monday.
GM shuttered the Hummer brand in 2010 amid rising gas prices and a global recession, but it’s given the gas-guzzling nameplate an unexpected second life as a brand for upscale, off-roadable, zero-emission vehicles. Hummer’s resurrection comes as part of GM’s larger electrification push.
The Detroit automaker announced in January that it won’t sell any gas-powered vehicles after 2035. In November, it said it will commit $27 billion toward the development of electric and autonomous vehicles.
As Tesla works to get its mammoth new factory in Germany up and running by the summer, disturbing delicate reptile habitats may be the least of Elon Musk’s worries.
After sparring with locals over everything from water supply to deforestation, there may be an even larger threat looming: Germany’s largest union.
Tesla hasn’t made many friends of labor activists in the US, and the 2.2-million-strong IG Metall isn’t likely to go down without a fight, experts told Insider. A prolonged battle over contracts with the group – which wields considerable political influence and social capital – could derail Tesla’s ambitious plans for the European market.
A standoff over contracts
Virtually every car company operating in Germany is a member of an employers’ association, and IG Metall – which represents metalworkers in the auto industry and other sectors – negotiates industry-wide contracts with the group instead of bargaining with each company individually. That system gives the country’s unions considerably more negotiating power than their US counterparts, which vote to unionize plant by plant.
But there’s a catch – joining the association isn’t required by law, it’s only customary. And Tesla has made every indication it’s not interested in following that deep-rooted norm.
The carmaker has caught heat for union-busting tactics in the US – the National Labor Relations Board ruled in March that Musk must delete an anti-union tweet and reinstate a fired employee who was part of an organizing drive – and it has signaled it’s not keen on working with unions in Germany either.
Tesla ignored a letter from IG Metall inviting a dialogue last year. And it went to great lengths to pacify disgruntled union members at Tesla Grohmann Automation, an engineering firm it acquired in 2016, without entering the industry’s collective agreement. Instead, the carmaker fended off a strike by giving workers a deal that was comparable to the industry-wide wage (plus stock options).
It could try to pull the same play at Gigafactory Berlin.
The stakes are high for IG Metall
But IG Metall likely wants to avoid that scenario at all costs, Stephen Silvia, a professor at American University whose research focuses on comparative labor relations, told Insider.
Allowing a massive non-union plant to build cars in Germany would set the dangerous precedent that companies don’t need to engage in collective bargaining, he said. It would also mean thousands of members would potentially go without the contractually enforced job security, wages, and benefits the rest of the industry enjoys.
Moreover, IG Metall stands to lose bargaining power with other automakers if it can’t get Tesla to play ball, said Arthur Wheaton, an automotive industry expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. It’s especially crucial that IG Metall preserve all the sway it can at a time when carmakers are pivoting to EV production, which, Wheaton said, requires roughly 30% fewer workers than traditional auto manufacturing.
“It’s all about labor density,” he said. “Every plant that opens that’s not unionized hurts [IG Metall’s] power.”
The union can make life difficult for Tesla
Given the stakes, IG Metall is likely to employ a whole menu of strategies to bring Tesla to its side. And there’s no guarantee that any of it will bear fruit. Amazon, for example, has for years resisted calls from Germany’s service-sector union, Verdi, to recognize collective bargaining agreements.
Silvia, who has spoken to the union about its plans, anticipates a public relations campaign and protests to exert political and social pressure on Tesla to “be a good corporate citizen.”
“It’s very difficult to force a completely unwilling company,” Silvia said. “They’ll just have to make [Tesla’s] life as uncomfortable as possible.”
IG Metall could also organize rolling strikes, though there are restrictions on how long they can last and when they can occur. Grey-area “guerilla actions” – like slowing down work at a Tesla supplier where IG Metall might have members – may also be in the union’s playbook, Silvia said.
IG Metall may also try to influence Tesla’s leadership from within. The carmaker will be required by law to allow Gigafactory Berlin employees to form a works council – a group that represents the interests of the factory’s workforce – and IG Metall could make sure it’s stacked with members, according to Silvia.
Wheaton, however, thinks IG Metall’s main weapon for putting the squeeze on Tesla is blocking the completion of the factory altogether. IG Metall could work with environmentalist groups to slow down construction, he said.
Since beginning work on Gigafactory Berlin in early 2020, Tesla has faced setbacks from environmental activists and regulators over issues like deforestation, water usage, and the well-being of wildlife surrounding the construction site. And it has encountered delays over procedural problems having to do with work permits and deposits.
The stakes are high for Tesla, too
The carmaker likely wants to avoid any more stumbles as it looks to get the plant, which forms the cornerstone of its European strategy, online by July. Tesla aims to eventually build 500,000 European-market cars per year and produce its next-generation battery cells at the facility, and a protracted struggle with IG Metall could impede those plans.
Getting the factory up to speed as quickly and as smoothly as possible is critical for Tesla as it works to scale production worldwide and defend its market share from a growing number of EV-making rivals, most notably German automaker Volkswagen.
Tesla did not return Insider’s request for comment on whether it is open to joining the collective wage agreement.
IG Metall, for its part, said it’s approaching Tesla as it would any other manufacturer looking to open up a facility in Germany. Union representatives did not respond to Insider’s request for an interview but the chairman of IG Metall Berlin Jan Otto told Insider in an emailed statement that he doesn’t “feel any frustration towards Tesla and the new Gigafactory in Grünheide.”
“It is our job to organize people and negotiate collective agreements once we have reached more than 60/70% of the workers. In the past, we have organized thousands of workers in new and old companies,” Otto continued. “Tesla is a big player, but for us, it is just another company.”
Tesla on Friday announced better-than-expected car sales for the first three months of 2021, despite major production and supply-chain headwinds.
The electric-car maker delivered 184,800 vehicles in the first quarter, topping Wall Street’s expectations. The carmaker sold 182,780 of its Model 3 and Model Y, along with 2,020 of its higher-end Model S and Model X. Tesla does not break down its sales by individual model.
Tesla said it saw strong demand for the Model Y in China and that it will continue to speed up production of the refreshed Model X and Model S.
Shares of the automaker sank slightly, about 0.5% in extended trading Friday, though most major stock exchanges were closed for Good Friday. The stock sold off just shy of 1% on Thursday in the lead-up to the announcement.
Overall production numbers came in at 180,338, Tesla said. Both figures could change slightly, about 0.5%, as paperwork is finalized.
The carmaker faced major headwinds in the first quarter including a global shortage of semiconductors that has kneecapped auto manufacturing worldwide, idling production lines and forcing automakers to build cars without certain components as they await chips.
In January, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn warned of obstacles Tesla would face in the first quarter, including the semiconductor issue.
“Specifically for Q1, our volumes will have the benefit of early Model Y ramp in Shanghai,” Kirkhorn said on a conference call. “However, S and X production will be low due to the transition to the newly architected products. Additionally, we’re working extremely hard to manage through the global semiconductor shortage as well as port capacity, which may have a temporary impact.”
In February, Tesla temporarily halted production at its Fremont, California, factory, and CEO Elon Musk attributed the break to “parts shortages.” Production stoppages aren’t uncommon for carmakers, and they’ve become more frequent as the chip shortage drags on.
Wall Street expects Tesla to sell more than 800,000 vehicles in 2021, with production capacity aided by new factories that are set to come online in Germany and Texas.
Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said in a Friday note that he now expects Tesla to deliver more than 850,000 cars in 2021, as demand for EVs grows globally and as President Joe Biden signals a commitment to green infrastructure.
“We believe these delivery numbers are a paradigm and sentiment shifter for the space going forward. Its been a brutal sell off for Tesla and EVs, but we believe that will now be in the rear view mirror,” Ives said.
Tesla is set to release first quarter delivery figures as soon as Thursday, and Wall Street largely expects Elon Musk’s automaker to match its strong output from the final stretch of 2020.
Analyst consensus is that Tesla will deliver 173,800 vehicles in the three months ended March 31, though estimates range from 151,000 to 174,000 total.
In the final quarter of 2020, Tesla sold more than 180,000 of its Model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles to customers as it raced to meet a 500,000-unit goal set forth by Musk earlier in the year. The carmaker ultimately delivered 499,550 cars in 2020
Investors expect Tesla will build significantly more cars in 2021. Consensus sits at 831,000 units as the company continues to accelerate production at its existing factories, and add new production lines in Germany and Texas.
However, Kirkhorn said, accelerated production of the Model Y at Tesla’s Shanghai plant would be a boon for delivery volumes. The carmaker is building two additional factories – one in Berlin, Germany, and one in Austin, Texas – that are expected to greatly expand its production capacity in 2021 and in years to come.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley project that Tesla’s manufacturing capacity will reach 1.3 million units by the end of 2021, 3 million units by 2025, and nearly 5.5 million by 2030.
The deliveries announcement will come at a critical time for Tesla, amid a wider selloff in the EV space and as the electric-car maker looks to prove to investors that it can continue to scale up production worldwide while avoiding some of the quality-control issues that have plagued it in the past.
The carmaker, a dominant force in EVs for years, is also facing down more competitors than ever before. Ford launched its first mass-market battery-powered vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, in late 2020, while Volkswagen began delivering its inaugural US-market EV, the ID.4, in March. Upstarts Rivian and Lucid plan to deliver their first vehicles by summer.
Volkswagen of America may not rebrand to “Voltswagen” after all, multipleoutlets report.
The brand – a subsidiary of Germany’s Volkswagen Group – announced plans Tuesday to rename its US operations “Voltswagen of America.” It said the brand’s battery-powered vehicles will have exterior “Voltswagen” badging, while its gas-powered cars will come with just the traditional VW emblem.
Now Volkswagen appears to be walking back the statement, according to multiple outlets citing sources familiar with the move.
The press release announcing the name change, published to VW of America’s website on March 30, was an April Fools’ joke, a Volkswagen spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. The announcement was made up to drum up attention for VW’s upcoming electric vehicles, Reuters reported, citing three sources familiar.
The carmaker will officially retract the name change on Wednesday, multiple outlets report.
“We might be changing out our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere,” Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Voltswagen of America, said in a statement Tuesday. “This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”
CNBC initially reported the name change Monday, after a draft of Tuesday’s press release was accidentally posted to the brand’s website a month early. It was dated April 29, CNBC said, and was briefly online before being removed from VW’s website.
Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Group representatives did not immediately return Insider’s requests for comment.
Volkswagen began delivering its first EV for the US market, the ID.4, in March. During a presentation in March, the Volkswagen Group laid out a wide-ranging strategy to overtake Tesla in the EV space. The plans included six European battery-production plants, new battery technology, and investments in charging infrastructure.
Despite being the most valuable automaker on the planet, Tesla has a relatively spare vehicle lineup as compared with other car companies.
The company – by far the most successful purveyor of electric vehicles – sells just four models: the Model S and Model 3 sedans along with the Model X and Model Y crossovers. Ford sells double that number of SUVs alone.
But Elon Musk’s automaker has grand plans to expand its offerings in the near future. A semi truck, pickup truck, supercar, and high-performance sedan are all supposed to arrive by 2022, and Musk has said an electric ATV, a $25,000 car, and a van are in the works as well.
Tesla’s Cybertruck caused a stir upon its reveal during a splashy event in 2019 – and not just because its supposedly bulletproof windows shattered on stage (twice).
The pickup’s unconventional design polarized onlookers, with fans describing it as futuristic and daring and critics saying it looked like something out of a primitive video game. Some wondered what its sharp corners might do to pedestrians in a crash.
Yet the Cybertruck has attracted more than 500,000 non-binding preorders, according to Musk. It will come in three configurations – single-motor rear-wheel drive, dual-motor all-wheel drive, and tri-motor all-wheel drive – and will offer up to 500 miles of range, according to Tesla.
Pricing will start at $39,990, Tesla said in 2019, and volume production will likely begin in 2022, Musk said in January.
When Tesla revealed the new Roadster in 2017 – aiming for a 2020 launch date – Musk said it “will be the fastest production car ever made, period.”
Tesla claims the four-seat supercar will sprint to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of more than 250 mph. According to the EV maker, the Roadster will be able to travel 620 miles on a charge – farther than any EV on the market today.
Musk has also said he wants to equip the Roadster with compressed-air rocket thrusters to boost acceleration and, potentially, give it the ability to hover short distances. Needless to say, a flying Tesla probably won’t fly with regulators.
The new Roadster is priced starting at $200,000 and is slated to enter production in 2022.
Like the Cybertruck and Roadster, the Tesla Semi – the carmaker’s class 8 truck – has remained in vehicle-development purgatory since it was announced in 2017. Tesla initially eyed 2019 for the big rig’s launch, but later pushed that date to 2020 and finally to 2021.
Over the years, the prospect of a battery-powered tractor-trailer has attracted lots of attention from major retailers and shippers eager to spend less on fuel and maintenance. Tesla says the Semi will eventually be fully autonomous, meaning that fleet owners could theoretically run trucks for longer hours and save on labor costs.
Pepsi, Walmart, Anheuser Busch, UPS, and FedEx have all placed reservations for the Semi, which Tesla expects will cost $180,000 for a model with 500 miles of range. A 300-mile range truck will also be available for $150,000.
The regular Model S Plaid is available now and offers up 390 miles of range, a 200 mph top speed, and a 0-60-mph time under two seconds, according to Tesla. The automaker says the Plaid Plus will be even quicker to 60 mph and will travel more than 520 miles on a charge. Tesla says it will generate more than 1,100 horsepower from three motors.
The Model S Plaid Plus will run $149,990 and starts shipping in the middle of 2022.
Tesla has been steadily decreasing the price of its vehicles for years, but the EVs are set to get even cheaper in the near future.
At the company’s Battery Day event in September 2020, Musk promised that a $25,000, fully autonomous Tesla would hit the market “about three years from now.” Musk has admitted himself that punctuality isn’t his strong suit, so it’s fair to take that timeline with a grain of salt.
But Tesla appears to be making headway on the plans. The company aims to complete a research and development center in China that will develop the budget EV by the end of 2021, Tesla China President Tom Zhu said in a February interview with Chinese media.
The Cyberquad hit the scene as a last-minute, surprise announcement during Tesla’s Cybertruck unveiling. And we haven’t heard much about it since.
Tesla hasn’t discussed pricing, a launch date, or any specs. But some sleuthing by automotive journalist Bozi Tatarevic appears to have uncovered that the Cyberquad – at least the one shown during the Cybertruck event – shares a platform with the gas-powered Yamaha Raptor ATV.
Musk has floated the idea of a Tesla van more than once, most recently during a February interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast in which he said it’s possible the EV will have an array of solar panels on it. Before that, Musk said on a conference call in January that it plans to build a van “at some point,” but that it’s been held back by a lack of battery cell supply.
It’s possible that a future high-capacity Tesla would be used to shuttle passengers along networks of subterranean roadways built by The Boring Company, a tunneling firm that Musk also runs. A San Bernardino County transportation official let it slip in June that the county is working with Tesla on a 12-person van for a future Boring tunnel there, but Tesla hasn’t officially announced any such vehicle.
Jeep isn’t building an electric offroader just yet, but it showed off what one might look like on Monday.
The brand created a battery-powered version of the Wrangler SUV – called the Magneto – to display at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, an annual gathering of Jeep fans in Moab, Utah. The Magneto is just a concept vehicle – meaning it’s more of a design exercise than anything Jeep plans to sell – but it very well could signal what Jeep has in store for a future electric SUV.
Jeep built the Magneto around a two-door 2020 Wrangler Rubicon, swapping out the gas engine for a custom electric motor under the hood. The motor puts out 273 lb-ft of torque and 285 horsepower, and, according to the brand, its power is indistinguishable from the 3.6-liter V6 found in some other Jeeps.
The Magneto can sprint to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, Jeep says. It didn’t release the vehicle’s range, but said it’s powered by four battery packs placed throughout the SUV.
What sets the Magneto concept apart from EVs on the market today is its six-speed manual transmission. Barely any EVs have a multi-speed transmission at all, much less a manual one. The Porsche Taycan and its upcoming Audi sibling have a two-speed automatic that’s meant to help with acceleration and efficiency.
Jeep made sure that the Magneto’s electric drivetrain didn’t hinder its off-road performance. The company waterproofed the Magneto’s batteries and protected them with skid plates, giving the vehicle the ability to ford 30 inches of water or drive over rough terrain without damaging the batteries.
Jeep hasn’t officially announced that an electric Wrangler is on the way, but it has said that it will eventually offer an electrified (partially or fully electric) option for every model in its lineup. In September, the brand unveiled the 2021 Wrangler 4xe, a $50,000 plug-in hybrid model that’s available now.