Newsflash: Lexus komt met DS 3 Crossback alternatief

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+++ Elon Musk suggested that Tesla will be able to produce BATTERIES with a 50 % more energy density and a longer life cycle in the next three to four years, ahead of the car maker’s ‘Battery Day’ on September 22. tesla is expected to announce a number of major advancements in battery cell technology on Battery Day, right after the conclusion of its 2020 Annual Shareholders Meeting. Musk said on Twitter that “400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years”. According to researchers, the energy density of the Panasonic 2170 battery cells used in the Tesla Model 3 is around 260 Wh/kg. Musk’s hint translates into an almost 50 % jump from the current energy density, a key feature to achieve a longer driving range. Tesla also used a strange background image on its site for the announcement of the 2020 Shareholders Meeting, showing series of dots clustered in line formations and leading media and fans into speculation about what the carmaker will reveal that day. South Korean battery expert Park Chul-wan said that the image may tease the “silicon nanowire anode” technology, which can allegedly increase both energy density and life duration of a battery sharply. In addition, Panasonic said that they are planning to boost the energy density of the original 2170 battery cell used in the Tesla Model 3 by 20 % in 5 years. Tesla is also working with China’s CATL for the creation of a new, low-cost, long-life battery pack for the locally-built Model 3. This is expected to debut later this year or in early 2021, with the new battery expected to last for a million miles of use. +++ 

+++ Spy photos of a mystery BMW M8 mule being tested at the Nürburgring could be a first sign at BMW’s rumored 600 hp plug-in hybrid. The demise of BMW’s mid-engine i8 plug-in hybrid with no news of a direct replacement led us to wonder what BMW really has in store for the future of the formula, but if this early prototype is anything to go on, it may be alive and well. We’re not sure what BMW plans to call its next round of all-electric and plug-in variants, but whatever it ends up being called, the prospect is certainly fascinating. Let’s start with what we’re looking at. At first glance, this appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill BMW M8 with some camouflage over the front and rear, which is about what you’d expect to see from a company that is likely developing alternative bodywork for a mid-cycle update or a new appearance package. Looking more closely, however, we see the strategic tinting of the rear window glass along with very obvious air intake vents where the rear side windows should be. Translation? There’s something back there that 1) needs air flow and 2) BMW doesn’t want us to see. To further grease the skids, my spies tell me that the engine in this car did not sound anything like the V8 found under the hood of either the BMW M8 or its racing variant, the M8 GTE, which carries over the former’s front-engine layout. In fact, the spy even referred to the sound as “different”, which could just be good salesmanship, but the fact of the matter remains that whatever is under there, it’s not from an M8, or any other 8 Series derivative currently known to us. Conveniently, all of the things that make this an unlikely M8 variant, from the mid-engine layout to the unconventional exhaust note, make a compelling case for it as a revival of BMW’s plug-in flagship. Even the wheels appear strikingly similar to those on the BMW Vision M Next concept the company showed at Frankfurt last year, which was said to be a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine making 600 hp. BMW claimed it could do 0-100 kph in 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 300 kph and boasting 100 km of all-electric range. +++ 

+++ The Ford BRONCO seems destined to get the Raptor treatment and the case for this continues to grow as the rumored model has been mentioned by an employee. He says they’re an EDS (Electrical Distribution System) engineer who is working on the 2023 Bronco Raptor. There have been countless rumors about a Bronco Raptor. Early reports suggested the high-performance model would come equipped with a twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The engine is optional on the standard Bronco where it produces 314 hp and 542 Nm. However, I already know it can be tuned to produce more power as the engine develops 340 hp in the Edge ST. More recent rumors have suggested the Bronco Raptor could use a larger 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. In the Explorer ST, the mill cranks out 406 hp and 562 Nm. That would be a healthy 91 hp and 20 Nm more than the Bronco with the optional 2.7-liter V6. Of course, that’s far from certain as there has been speculation about a 5.0-liter V8 as well. Speaking V8s, Jeep is working on a high-performance Wrangler that was previewed by the Rubicon 392 concept. It featured a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produced 456 hp and 609 Nm. This enabled the concept to accelerate from 0-96 km/h in less than 5 seconds. Putting the engine aside, a Bronco Raptor would presumably feature unique styling as well as an off-road focused suspension.  The standard Bronco is already pretty hardcore, so it remains to be seen how Ford would improve the model even further. +++ 

+++ If the CHEVROLET CORVETTE Stingray’s nearly 500 hp V8 engine fails to entice you, then the forthcoming Corvette Z06’s 650 hp V8 ought to do the trick. And it’s not just the horsepower output that’s changed. The Z06’s engine will be an entirely different animal from its lesser sibling, increasing performance and bringing an entirely different character to the car. Read on to find out why. Unlike the LT2 engine of the Stingray, the Z06’s V8 will forgo pushrod valves and a cross-plane crank for dual-overhead cams and a flat-plane crank. The resulting engine should possess the rev-happy nature and aural thrills of the Corvette C8.R’s V8, which also happens to use twin cams and a flat-plane crank. While Chevrolet will not drop the C8.R’s 5.5-liter engine into the Z06, the two Corvettes’ V8s are expected to share a number of common pieces. The Z06’s V-8 should be smaller than its race car kin, reportedly sharing parts (and perhaps its entire block) with Cadillac’s Blackwing V8 engine. I’d wager it’ll ultimately displace in the neighborhood of 4.2 liters. V8s using flat-plane crankshafts lack the natural balance of a cross-plane crank, and larger displacements exacerbate the vibration and harshness of this arrangement. By limiting the displacement, employing lightweight pistons, and using a short-stroke crank, I expect the Z06 to be tolerable for owners who regularly drive their cars in traffic. To compensate for its lesser displacement, the Z06’s engine is due to adopt a pair of turbochargers. Unlike Cadillac’s Blackwing engine, which houses 2 turbos in the valley between its heads, the Z06’s V8 is expected to rely on outboard-mounted turbos. All in, the high-performance Corvette model purportedly produces 650 hp. Like the Stingray, look for the Z06 to rely on an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to send all those horses to its rear wheels. Revisions to the car’s suspension and a set of sticky summer tires (that are properly wide at the rear) are sure to keep the Z06’s power from overwhelming its drive wheels and chassis.In addition to the added power, the 2022 Corvette Z06 will welcome a number of weight saving measures. Don’t worry, creature comforts will still abound, and there’s no indication the Z06 will ditch the likes of the Stingray’s large digital gauge cluster or touchscreen infotainment system. Nevertheless, look for the model to feature a number of lightweight materials for items such as the exhaust, rear wing, front splitter, and even its wheels. Specifically, the 2022 Corvette Z06 will offer buyers the option to equip it with a set of carbon-fiber wheels. While such a setup is not new (vehicles from Porsche and Ford offer carbon fiber wheels), it’s still a relatively rare (and surely expensive) way for road-going cars to go about shedding mass. Although we hear the current pandemic is forcing Chevy to push back the Corvette Z06’s debut, we’re still hopeful the brand manages to take the wraps off the car in early 2021 and ship it to dealers before the end of the year as a 2022 model. That said, it’s possible the Z06 won’t arrive until sometime in 2022 as a 2023 model. Regardless, prepare to spend a good chunk more change to get into the car. Frankly, we’ll be surprised if the Z06 stickers for anything south of $80,000. That’s pricey for a Corvette (consider the Stingray starts at $59,995 in the United States). Still, compared to the 572-hp Porsche 911 Turbo, which starts at more than $170,000, the Z06 is sure to be a relative steal given its performance capabilities. +++ 

+++ It turns out the FORD Mustang Mach-E First Edition isn’t as “sold out” as we were initially led to believe. Ford has decided to re-open the books for the limited edition first year model, but it’s not doing it in a normal fashion. Instead of allowing customers to place reservations on Ford’s website, it’s going through popular social platforms. For example, you can reserve one on Uncrate, a website that bills itself as “the leading buyer’s guide for men”. You can buy all sorts of gear, apparel and even cars on the site, and now, you can buy a Mustang Mach-E. Ford never told us how many First Edition Mach-Es it was going to make originally, and when we asked this time, Ford again told us that it’s still not confirming an official number. This being the case, we’re totally clueless as to how many Mach-E First Editions are up for grabs on Uncrate. The site claims there’s a “limited number”, though, so it’s likely a low quantity. In addition to availability on Uncrate, Ford told us it’s partnering with Spotify and other platforms to offer more First Editions through the end of August; watch out for those as the week goes on. Ford is marketing this like an exclusive merch drop, akin to something Supreme might do with items in short supply. It’s a bit weird, and it isn’t something we’ve seen Ford attempt in the past. In the end, all it truly means is that there are more Mach-E First Editions out there available to order. Ford told us that customers were disappointed they sold out so quickly before, so this is a chance for those folks to hop aboard. The First Editions are distinguished by red brake calipers, red contrast stitching inside, “First Edition” scuff plates and brushed aluminum pedal covers. All of them available from Uncrate will be painted Carbonized Gray and have black ActiveX upholstery. The powertrain setup hasn’t changed, meaning all the First Editions will have 346 hp combined from their dual-motor setups. Ford estimates a 412 km range, but official EPA estimates still aren’t available. +++ 

+++ HONDA has decided to move some of its production from its soon to be shut down Swindon plant in the United Kingdom to Japan. According to Nikkei, Honda will go on to build its Civic model at a plant in Yorii, northwest of Tokyo, next year. Furthermore, the UK, which is set to leave the European Union, and Japan are looking to drop tariffs on cars all the way down to zero by the year 2026. The current tariff on vehicles coming into the EU from Japan is 7.5%, but with the UK leaving the block, that figure would rise to 10 % if nobody does anything. Last year, a total of 11 % of the Swindon’s plant output reached the UK market, with 6 % getting shipped to Japan. Nearly 70 % was destined for the United States. The reason why the Yorii plant was chosen was not only because of the potential for zero tariffs, but also for the goal of raising the factory’s utilization rate. With the UK being Europe’s second largest market after Germany, it’s important to point out that cars made by Japanese brands account for nearly 20 % of the British market. Honda sold roughly 40.000 cars in the UK last year, representing 1/3 of its total sales for Europe. This move by Honda somewhat mirrors what Nissan did in 2019 when instead of building its next-generation X-Trail in the United Kingdom, they decided to make it at their Kyushu factory in Japan. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) will take over production of the ‘AJ’ supercharged petrol V8 in Wolverhampton after Ford shuts its Bridgend plant next month. The future of the engine (which is used in everything from the Jaguar F-Type to the Range Rover and set to be used in the new Land Rover Defender) had been uncertain since last summer, when Ford announced the closure of the facility where it has been built since 1996. It has now emerged that JLR will transfer the production equipment, and possibly some of the workforce, from Wales to the West Midlands in a ‘lift and shift’ operation. A statement from the firm read: “Manufacture of the JLR-designed V8 petrol engines previously made at Bridgend will move to the JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre, with further detail to be confirmed at a later date”. Ford says production at Bridgend is now focused on work for “third parties” (JLR), with assembly of the Ford Sigma and Dragon engines already having been wound down. Bridgend is understood to have been building the AJ at a higher rate than required in order to build up buffer supplies while the production line is moved. Sources suggest the AJ, now in its third generation, will continue in production for 3 to 5 years. The timing is likely to coincide with the introduction of EU7, an inevitably more stringent next step of European Union emissions regulations. At that point, JLR is expected to adopt BMW’s V8 as part of a wide-reaching powertrain deal, as demand for this engine type dwindles in Europe but stays buoyant in the US and the Middle East. Strong demand for the current V8 in those markets is a key motivator for JLR taking over its production and continuing to build it. +++ 

+++ By this time next year, JEEP should have 2 new models in its lineup: Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The 2 will give Jeep three rows of seating and a halo offering. Rumours persist the Grand Wagoneer will be a posh luxury offering with lots of tech; however, judging by the continuing teaser campaign, we won’t have long to wait for more information. Today, Jeep posted a short teaser video to Instagram, showing the silhouette of the Wagoneer. Sadly, it doesn’t reveal much, and, at a glance, it looks similar to the Grand Cherokee. However, the similarity likely stems from the model being from Jeep. I expect the Wagoneer (and Grand Wagoneer) to wear the brand’s 7-slot grille with the headlights flanking it, which are visible in several of the spy photos we have of the SUV. The silhouette removes any detail from the vehicle, making it difficult to determine what the SUV looks like. Details about how, or to what extent, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will differ outside of the luxury upgrade remains unknown. Previous teasers appear to show off the Grand Wagoneer’s ultra-luxurious interior, with knurled knobs and wood trim. Adding to its luxury branding are screens, one of which will be available for the front passenger while a 12 inch frameless infotainment screen sits in the instrument panel. It’s expected to share its underpinnings with the Ram 1500, which could mean hybrid powertrains in the future. Jeep announced it’ll reveal the Grand Wagoneer on September 3, though it hasn’t set a time. I expect to see both models; however, the automaker hasn’t really specified which we’ll see. It’d be strange to show one without the other, though Jeep could want to make a glitzy splash with the Grand Wagoneer. Either way, production is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2021. On the teaser video for the Grand Wagoneer, we can make out a curved hood, rounded fenders and a tall fascia. The model will also have roof rails and what appears to be a modest amount of ground clearance. As said, it’s expected to be based on the same platform that underpins the Ram 1500. This means engines will likely be shared with the truck and include an entry-level 3.6-liter V6 that produces 309 hp and 364 Nm. There should also be a 5.7-liter V8 with 400 hp and 556 Nm. The company has also confirmed plans for a plug-in hybrid variant. +++ 

+++ The trademark attorneys at Toyota are staying busy by filing applications for the names “LBX” and “Lexus LBX”. It’s not entirely clear what this moniker might be for, though. On August 5, Toyota filed a trademark application of “LBX” in Europe. On the same day, the company also requested “LBX” and “Lexus LBX” in Israel. Then on August 7, the automaker submitted the paperwork for “LBX” in Iceland and Switzerland. All of them are in the category for “automobiles and structural parts thereof”. Given the locations of all of these trademark requests so far, it makes us think that the LBX would be a European-centric creation. However, since the LEXUS brand’s start, the brand’s models use alphanumeric model names consisting of two letters and numerals referencing the powertrain. LBX doesn’t fit the normal nomenclature, and there’s no indication of the marque overhauling the branding scheme. The trademark could be for a forthcoming concept, and there’s evidence to support this theory. A rumour suggests that the Toyota Yaris Cross could get a Lexus variant that the company would call the BX. The little crossover would sit below the UX in the lineup. If the marque wants to preview the vehicle at a future show, then LBX would be a fitting name for it. Since the Yaris Cross is for European and Asian markets, it would make sense for Toyota to apply for the trademark for the Lexus version in those areas first. Toyota also recently filed trademarks around the world for “Lexus RZ 450e”, including the United States, Europe, and Australia. It’s possibly the name for an electric crossover coming from the brand. +++ 

+++ A new prototype for the forthcoming MERCEDES-AMG GT 73 has been spied during testing. The GT 73e will offer extreme levels of performance for a vehicle this luxurious and of this size. Porsche’s recent executive car lap record set at the Nurburgring will also come under threat should Mercedes look to usurp its German rival at the famed circuit. The flagship Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door model will utilize the brand’s current 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine operating alongside a rear-mounted electric motor and all-wheel drive. It is claimed the car could pump out as much as 805 hp. If true, that would give it a significant advantage over the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid that has 680 hp. Not only will the plug-in hybrid powertrain result in extraordinary performance, including a 0-100 km/h time of under 3 seconds, but the GT 73e will also be able to drive for a limited distance on all-electric power. When combined with all the luxuries of the GT 63, the plug-in hybrid has the right ingredients to be the executive car of choice for those seeking out the ultimate level of performance. I expect to see the Mercedes-AMG GT 73e presented before the end of the year. +++ 

+++ Back in January, a prototype surfaced that I identified as the facelifted version of the PEUGEOT 3008, which is due on September 1st. The unveiling will take place online, naturally. So what can we expect once all the images are official? Well, the updated 3008 will gain a revised front fascia with 208 and 508-like daytime running lights, a wider central intake and more pronounced lateral intakes. It’s definitely a more dynamic look. Other visual changes should include updated taillights with slightly more pronounced graphics. Minor updates are coming to the i-cockpit dashboard too, where the facelifted 3008 will employ a new infotainment system with a much larger display than before. Everything else looks more of less the same, but expect some trim changes too. Engine options should remain pretty much unchanged, meaning a wide range of gasoline and diesel units, as well as 2 hybrid 1.6-liter 4-pot engines and a plug-in hybrid. The latter should continue to carry the name Hybrid4, which currently boasts 300 hp and 57 km of all-electric range. The Peugeot 3008 is the third best-selling crossover in its segment in Europe, trailing the Nissan Qashqai by only a couple of thousand units. The Volkswagen Tiguan holds roughly a 14.000 unit lead for the first half of 2020. +++ 

+++ When the current-generation PORSCHE 911 debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in late 2018, August Achleitner (Mr. 911), the now retired head of development for the 911 range, said the iconic sports car would get a hybrid variant within 4 years. He said the 992 was designed for the possibility of adding an electrified variant that would further enhance its performance, as there is room within the PDK automatic transmission to integrate an electric motor. The transmission was also engineered to cope with high torque levels of the sort that can come with electrification. But such a model wasn’t a priority, as the focus was on other electric vehicle plans. Porsche was getting ready to launch the Taycan as the first of a family of pure-electric vehicles that will spawn the Cross Turismo later this year. Plans also call for future generations of vehicles to feature electric versions, starting with the Macan in 2022. Electrified models are also planned for the Boxster and Cayman, all of which would join the extant hybrid versions of the Cayenne and the Panamera. So, what about the 911? Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, would like to see it in showrooms for North American customers. But he’s careful to not say too much in our recent interview, an approach that isn’t too surprising given the loaded history of this seemingly simple question. Timing and technology of an electrified 911 depend on who you ask, and when. Based on interviews with top Porsche executives over the past couple of years, the plans appear quite fluid, to say the least. The one area where most agree: It is not imminent, and the 911 will likely be the last Porsche to be electrified. Porsche chairman Oliver Blume told media outlets last fall the 911 hybrid would be the highest-performing variant. Others have said it could be used to hit ever-tightening efficiency targets. Meanwhile, Frank-Steffen Walliser, who oversees the 911 lineup, has suggested it might be best to keep electric motors and other components out as they add weight to an incredibly poised, balanced car, once which doesn’t have much room for packaging such a powertrain’s additional hardware. Initially, executives said the 911 would get a mild hybrid. As time passed, that talk changed, as well. Blume said a 700 hp 911 hybrid would make the kind of impact needed, and that would require the more powerful electric motors of a plug-in setup. And then there is the timing. For years, talk was the hybrid 911 would arrive by 2022. Then the timeframe became 2023 or 2024 as part of the 992 generation’s mid-cycle refresh, or even as late as 2026. As for a pure EV variant, that could be a decade away. My time with Zellmer came amidst the conflicting reports. “I’ll leave that up to my friend Frank Walliser, who has actually given a lot of insights recently about the potential of a mild hybrid in the 911”, Zellmer said with a laugh that said he would in no way publicly disagree with his colleagues. “I think there are a lot of technical advantages in hybridization of cars, absolutely”, he added. Asked if he is pushing for a 911 hybrid for his North American market, Zellmer said, “Rest assured, I’m in contact with my colleagues in Germany in our research and development center. One of my most important responsibilities is representing the customer’s voice here in the United States and Canada to make sure we have cars that keep us on the success track going forward, and the cars customers want and expect from us”. I think that means he wants one in the lineup. But while it sure seems like an electrified 911 is an inevitability, the debate within Porsche means its arrival likely remains some ways in the distance. +++ 

+++ RIVIAN has delayed the launch of the R1T and R1S by approximately 6 months, but they could be worth the wait as the company is promising they will have luxurious interiors. During an event, Rivian’s director of crafted quality said the company is benchmarking their interiors against those from Audi and Lincoln as well as Bentley and Lamborghini. Richard Vaughan went on to say the company wants to ensure their upcoming vehicles are “truly world-class” and express craftsmanship at first glance. This goes beyond traditional materials and design as he noted the need for solid-feeling haptics as well as ‘good’ sounds generated by everything from the user interface to moving parts. Rivian hasn’t said much about the interiors, but the company has previously said their upcoming electric vehicles will have sustainably sourced wood as well as colors and textures inspired by nature. The company has also promised to use premium, but utilitarian materials in “places where adventure tends to leave a mark”. Of course, the models will also be high-tech as they are slated to have a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, a 15.6 inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 6.8 inch rear display. The information system has been given special attention as Rivian has previously described it as a “custom” unit which has a “digital user interface which strongly reflects adventure, outdoors and exploration”. While the models are roughly a year away, pricing starts at $69,000 and they’re slated to have four electric motors as well as battery packs with capacities of 105 kWh, 135 kWh and 180 kWh. The pickup and SUV will also have outputs ranging from 407 hp and 560 Nm to 764 hp and 1.120 Nm. +++ 

+++ Honda has agreed to pay $85 million to settle an investigation by most U.S. states into its use of defective TAKATA AIRBAG inflators in its vehicles, according to a consent order made public. The state probes are connected with the ongoing recalls of tens of millions of vehicles equipped with potentially defective Takata inflators that were sold by Honda and other major auto manufacturers over the past 20 years. To date, more than 40 million U.S. vehicles equipped with 60 million defective Takata air bags have been recalled because the inflators can explode when deployed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At least 25 deaths around the world and nearly 300 injuries have been linked to faulty Takata inflators. Worldwide, the Takata recalls cover about 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers, including Honda. In January, Honda said it would recall an additional 2.7 million older U.S. vehicles in North America for potentially defective Takata inflators. That recall covers Honda and Acura automobiles from the 1996 through 2003 model years. Honda said it was aware of one field rupture of an inflator in the new recall campaign (a 2012 crash in Texas that resulted in an injury) and 2 in junk yards in Japan. In the settlement announced, Honda agrees to upgrade their product safety procedures related to frontal airbags, including to reduce the risk that their inflators could rupture. The Honda affiliates agreed to the consent order without admitting wrongdoing and to avoid the cost of further litigation, the automaker said. Court approval is required. Honda confirmed it had reached civil settlements with 46 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and three U.S. territories over the matter. Since 2008, Honda has recalled nearly 13 million U.S. vehicles equipped with Takata inflators, and has replaced more than 16 million inflators. A multistate group of attorneys general had been investigating Honda’s use of Takata airbags since December 2015, according to the consent order. +++ 

+++ TESLA could have about 40 % of its sales attributed to the Chinese market by 2022, according to a new note from Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. Ives, who handles Tesla’s evaluation, believes Tesla is poised for a possible 71 % spike in stock price from $2,500 to $3,500, with China the key for its stock price increase. “We believe the production and demand trajectory in China for Tesla remains robust and stronger than expected for the thord quarter with clear momentum heading into the year-end”, Ives said in the note, according to a report from news portal Teslarati. “With the China growth story, Tesla could now have $35+ of earnings power by 2025/2026 versus our prior estimate of $20-$25”, Ives also said in the note. Wedbush said Tesla could have about 40 % of its sales attributed to the Chinese market, which depends whether the company can keep up with demand from the world’s largest automotive market. Pent-up demand for the Model 3 in China and recent price cuts have created “a perfect storm of demand” for Tesla to capitalize on, Wedbush said. He also said Tesla is “back on track” to deliver 500.000 cars this year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and it could ultimately deliver 1 million units per year by 2023. +++ 

+++ Jeep has released new teaser videos for the upcoming WRANGLER 4xe plug-in hybrid. It looks similar to the model that was introduced at CES earlier this year. As a result, it has a charging port which is integrated into the base of the windscreen. There will be a “4xe” badging on the left of the tailgate. However, the production model will be slightly toned down as it eschews blue tow hooks and blue accents around the Rubicon decals. Jeep has been tight-lipped on specifics, but the model will debut soon and is expected to feature a plug-in hybrid system that is loosely based on the one used in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Little is known about it, but Jeep promised the model will be “so quiet you can hear your own breath, until it takes that away too”. “The vehicle will arrive in our showrooms in the United States by the end of this year and in Europe and China early next year”, CEO Mike Manley said. The Wrangler 4xe will be on the front line of FCA’s electrification push in North America. Thanks to spy shots and recent social media teasers of the vehicle (which play up the Jeep’s silent EV-only driving mode), as well as the Jeep Wrangler 4xe concept from CES, I’ve managed to glean quite a bit about the upcoming Wrangler model. Predictably, the model will rely on an electric motor to boost power while also improving fuel efficiency, as well as offering enough power for short stints of all-electric driving. We expect Jeep to pair the torque-rich motor with the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that Jeep already uses in the Wrangler. The Wrangler 4xe is expected to offer up to 50 km of electric-only driving, which, as the video teasers above guarantee, will allow owners to sneak up on wildlife and scenic vistas without much noise. Being a Jeep, we would not be surprised to see the Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain serve as an external power source for the likes of personal camping equipment, too. Like its conventional counterpart, the Wrangler 4xe will be built at the home of Jeep: The Toledo Assembly Plant, in Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Machining Plant (also in Ohio) will make the plug-in’s power module, install the applicable software, and conduct final testing before the units are sent to the vehicle assembly plant. The power module is comprised of the power inverter and the integrated dual-charger, which includes both an onboard charger and a DC/DC converter. Jeep will mount the module in a protective structure under the SUV between the exhaust and driveshaft. The Wrangler 4xe is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’s commitment to have 30 models with electrified powertrains by 2022, an ambitious target for an automaker that only had the Pacifica Hybrid and the Fiat 500e but is now expanding quickly. The new Fiat 500 electric vehicle launched with a Limited Edition in Europe in March. Made in Italy, the car will be in European showrooms in September, Manley said. +++

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