Yesterday was Ford’s big day, and the Bronco’s biggest rival, Jeep, did everything it could to spoil the party. First, it released a concept for a V8-powered Wrangler that reports indicate is headed to production, and whose hype video showed it scaring off horses—a not-so-subtle jab at Ford. Then, on launch day itself, Jeep announced it will soon go somewhere else Ford can’t quite yet follow: down the route of electrification with the Wrangler.
Jeep specifically refers to the 4xe model as “electrified,” which, while encompassing everything from mild hybridization to full electric drive, is in this case tipped to mean plug-in hybrid (PHEV) power. This will give the Wrangler 4xe and its smaller Compass and Renegade 4xe companion models the flexibility to drive on both an internal combustion engine and—for short distances—purely electric power.
Though this 4xe drivetrain is also anticipated to appear underneath the Gladiator and revived Wagoneer, just when Jeep plans to introduce hybrid power remains unknown. Ford’s electrification plans for the Bronco remain similarly ill-defined, as the company has reportedly floated the idea of an electrified Bronco internally, though in our talks with Ford’s U.S. consumer marketing head Mark Grueber, he was hesitant to confirm such a model, stating only that Ford will monitor the market for demand.
And if the 2021 F-150 is anything to go by, there certainly is a demand for hybrid trucks, which on the new F-series will look like a 47-horsepower electric motor attached to the engine. It’s a less extensive form of hybridization, but it’s also one that requires less engineering and thus expense, and could let Ford expedite a hybrid Wrangler competitor to market—just perhaps not one that can drive on electric power alone—for now.
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