AUBURN HILLS, MI—FCA’s Toledo North assembly plant has started to produce the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid. The vehicle boasts up to 25 miles of electric-only range and nearly 400 miles of total range. It features a turbocharged, 4-cylinder gasoline-powered engine; a 400-volt, 17-kilowatt-hour battery pack; and 375-hp, 470 lb.-ft. of torque electrified power train with two electric motors.
The vehicles are built on the existing Wrangler assembly line. Over the next few years, the Jeep brand plans to offer electrification options on each nameplate, with each vehicle carrying the 4xe badge.
“Our 4xe vehicles will be the most efficient, responsible and capable that the brand has ever created,” claims Christian Meunier, global president of the Jeep brand at FCA. “We are committed to make Jeep the greenest SUV brand.”
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack uses nickel manganese cobalt graphite chemistry. The pack and controls mount underneath the second-row seat. The bottom cushion flips forward for access to the battery.
“Encased in an aluminum housing, the pack is fitted with a dedicated heating and cooling circuit to keep the battery at its optimum temperature for best performance,” explains Meunier. “The temperature control circuit includes a dedicated heater unit and a chiller that uses the Wrangler air-conditioning refrigerant to reduce coolant temperature when needed.
“The Wrangler 4xe hybrid system includes an integrated dual-charging module, which combines a battery charger and a DC-DC converter in a single unit that is more compact than two separate components, and a next-generation power inverter module that is reduced in size,” Meunier points out. “These components are housed in a steel structure mounted below the battery pack.
“A high-voltage, liquid-cooled motor generator unit mounts at the front of the engine, replacing the conventional alternator,” adds Meunier. “A robust belt connects the motor generator to the engine crankshaft pulley. The motor generator spins the engine for nearly seamless, fuel-saving, start-stop operation and generates electricity for the battery pack. The Wrangler 4xe does not use a conventional 12-volt starter motor; it is equipped with a 12-volt battery to run accessories.
“The second high-voltage motor generator is mounted at the front of the transmission case, replacing the conventional torque converter of an automatic transmission,” says Meunier. “Two clutches work to manage power and torque from the e-motor and engine. A binary clutch (on-off) is mounted between the engine and the motor. When this clutch is open, there is no mechanical linkage between the engine and the e-motor, which enables it to propel the Wrangler 4xe in electric-only mode.
“When the binary clutch is closed, torque from the 2.0-liter engine and the e-motor flow combine through the automatic transmission,” explains Meunier. “A variable clutch mounted behind the e-motor manages engagement with the transmission to improve drivability and efficiency.”