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.
Jeep, a brand once known for utilitarian off-roaders like the Wrangler, is going full-bore into luxury SUVs.
The company on Thursday unveiled two new high-end family-haulers – the 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer – that take direct aim at premium three-row SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, GMC Yukon, and BMW X7.
Jeep, now under the Stellantis umbrella of brands, introduced its first three-row SUV, the Cherokee L, in January.
The Wagoneer starts at $57,995, while its more expensive sibling, the Grand Wagoneer, starts at $86,995, making it by far the most expensive vehicle in Jeep’s lineup. Extras like additional screens for rear passengers, bigger wheels, quilted-leather seats, and an upgraded speaker system, can bring the Grand Wagoneer’s price tag to well over $100,000.
The Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer are essentially the same vehicle, with some key differences that account for the roughly $30,000 discrepancy in price. Inside, the Grand Wagoneer comes with more luxurious finishes and second-row captain’s chairs as standard.
Outside, the pricier model gets more chrome accents, different LED lighting, more pronounced fender flares, electronic side steps, and a black roof.
There are also some key mechanical differences. The Wagoneer is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 that puts out 392 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque, while the Grand Wagoneer comes equipped with a 6.4-liter V8 that generates 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, according to Jeep. They’re capable of towing up to 10,000 lbs.
Despite the foray into luxury SUVs, Jeep hasn’t completely shed its off-roading roots. Four-wheel drive and air suspension come standard on the Grand Wagoneer and are available for the Wagoneer. Jeep also says that the Wagoneers get up to 10 inches of ground clearance and can ford water that’s 24 inches deep.
In reviving the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names after three decades off the market, Jeep is just the latest automaker to capitalize on nostalgia for old models. The new Ford Bronco, Toyota Supra, Land Rover Defender, Jeep Gladiator, and GMC Hummer EV are all throwbacks to long-discontinued vehicles.
The 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are scheduled to hit dealerships in the second half of 2021. They’re available to preorder now with a $500 deposit.
The Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name that’s graced some models since 1975.
“I think people need to understand that as proud as a corporation might be of a name they selected decades ago, people should think about how proud the Cherokee people are to still be a people after all we have been through, and that is far more valuable than whatever marketing research might show the cherokee name has been to Jeep and its parent companies over the decades,” Chief Principal of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in an interview with Insider.
Jeep debuted the first Cherokee model in 1975. The car was described as a sporty, two-door version of the Wagoneer and featured bucket seats, a sports steering wheel, and detailing designed to appeal to younger, more adventurous drivers, according to Jeep.
In the decades since, relations between Native American tribes and corporate imagery depicting the people has changed dramatically. Some brands have stepped back from using Native American appropriation in their companies such as the NFL’s former Washington Redskins Football Team which changed its name in 2020 to the Washington Football Team.
Other brands have also taken steps to distance themselves from mascots and imagery. Land O Lakes butter changed its packaging in 2020 to no longer include the original indigenous “butter maiden.” The packaging now features an image just of a lake. Aunt Jemima products have also moved away from the enslaved mammy depiction and are now calling the breakfast foods Pearl Milling company.
Jeep also briefly rebranded the model bearing the Cherokee Nation’s name. From 2002 through 2013, the original Jeep Cherokee was branded in North American markets as the Liberty, before returning to the Cherokee name, according to Car and Driver.
The Cherokee name has been used in Jeep’s line of vehicles since the mid-1970s and has taken on various iterations, from a station wagon to the popular Grand Cherokee SUV that is currently branded with the name. The Jeep Cherokee was the 24th best-selling car in the US in 2020, with more than 135,000 units sold, according to Kelly Blue Book. The Grand Cherokee ranked 15th with more than 200,000 vehicles sold.
“Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride. We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr,” a Jeep spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
Hoskin objected to Jeep’s rationale for how the company chooses its vehicle names.
“This is a corporation that is making a great deal of money off the name of our tribe, they speak in terms of carefully selecting names to honor tribes,” Hoskin told Insider. “Our names were carefully selected by our ancestors before written history. This has been our proud name for a long time, I don’t see a way to compromise on the subject of a corporation marketing on the Cherokee name.”
Hoskin first spoke with Jeep, which is owned by the newly formed brand group Stellantis, in January. “We’re always willing to speak with the company and in fact I want to applaud the company for the discussion that we had,” he said. “I think the people on the call were people of good faith that were looking for a way to do the right thing and to learn more about what our concerns were.”
Hoskins said the brand listened to his concerns about the name of the models needing to be changed but that he anticipates “further discussions” over a potential rebranding.
A global shortage of computer chips has caused shutdowns at several automotive manufacturing plants – and car dealerships are already reflecting the shortage.
Car shoppers can expect to see an impact in the availability of certain car models due to the chip shortage, as well as a price increase, according to Cars.com executive editor Joe Wiesenfelder. Dealerships may also be less likely to offer deals as supplies dwindle.
“Consumers in the market of considering buying a car should shop now because choices and prices could worsen over the next two quarters,” Wiesenfelder told Insider.
Car companies began halting production at manufacturing plants in North America in the beginning of January.
Semiconductor chips have become an essential part of the manufacturing process for vehicles. The chips are used in navigation, bluetooth, and collision-detection systems and account for about 40% of a new car’s cost, according to a report from Deloitte.
The lack of chips has forced automakers to prioritize production of their higher-priced and more-profitable models.
Here are some of the models Cars.com said may see price increases or limited availability.
Toyota has already started increasing prices
The Toyota Tundra was one of the first cars to see a halt in production.
Cars.com said the Tundra has seen a drop in inventory of almost 27% for the month of February. Some Toyota models have already demonstrated price increases, including the Tacoma, which has gone up about $584 or 1.6%, despite only a 4% decrease in inventory, according to Cars.com.
Many Japanese carmakers are seeing an impact. Honda was one of the first car companies to warn of computer chip shortages, according to Bloomberg.
The Japanese carmaker has slashed production at several major manufacturing plants. In particular, shoppers can expect to see some pressure on the Honda Accord, Civic, Insight, and Odyssey, as well as the Acura RDX.
Nissan has had to adjust production in both Japan and North America. A spokesperson told Insider the company is continuing to assess the long-term impact of the chip shortage. For now, the models that have seen slowdowns for the carmaker include the Nissan Altima, Frontier, and Titan.
In February, Subaru reported it planned to cut its production plan for 2021 by about 58,000 cars. The models impacted by the cut include the Subaru Ascent, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback.
Ford and General Motors expect to lose billions of dollars
Ford began slowing down production at its plant in Louisville in January. During Ford’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CFO John Lawler said the chip shortage could cut the company’s first-quarter production by 10% to 20% – a $2.5 billion hit to revenue.
The car models that will be impacted by cuts at Ford plants include the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair, which are produced at the Louisville plant. Cars.com said there will also be declines in production of the Ford Edge and Explorer, as well as the Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Nautilus.
The company announced last week that it was closing three of its North American plants. The manufacturing sites will remain closed until at least mid-March.
The closures are expected to impact the Buick Encore, Cadillac XT4, and GMC Terrain. The company’s Chevrolet line will also see some slowdowns, as the sites that produce Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu, and Trax have been impacted.
Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen also feel the pinch
In January Fiat Chrysler suspended operations at plants in Ontario and Mexico. The slowdowns will impact several Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep products. Cars.com said dealerships will likely have lower inventories for the Chrysler 300, Pacifica, and Voyager. The Dodge Challenger and Charger may be in shorter supply, as well as the Jeep Cherokee and Compass.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen were some of the first car companies overseas to report shortages. In December, Volkswagen had already begun lowering production rates. The Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and Passat have already been impacted by the supply disruption.
Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen did not respond in time to comment.