Jeep North America head Jim Morrison hopes the charging stations will send a message that the brand — which has been known for rugged utility rather than fuel efficiency — is progressive, green and laden with technology. All Jeep nameplates are slated to offer some form of electrification by 2022.
Having charging stations at trailheads will be a novel sight. The first Jeep units will appear in Moab, Utah; Big Bear, Calif., and at the Rubicon Trail in Pollock Pines, Calif. — all popular spots for the Jeep community. Morrison said the plan is to install 35 chargers.
“We’ve never seen one in all my travels,” Morrison told Automotive News. “It’s kind of a natural extension for us with the Wrangler 4xe. It’s launching now and we’re talking to our customers and trying to really illustrate to the world our commitment [for] Jeep to be the greenest SUV brand.”
The Level 2 charging stations, which will be either directly connected to the power grid or use solar power to generate electricity, are eye-catching structures that drew attention in Moab during the Jeep Easter Safari, an off-road event at which the brand rolls out wild concepts and sometimes tests new technologies. Jeep debuted the Wrangler Magneto concept this year, a manual-transmission, fully electric vehicle loaded with four battery packs.
Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, said Jeep had to invest in a charging network if it wanted to sell electrified models, especially Wranglers.
“It also ties in with the image you want to bring that you’re going off-road to appreciate nature, and it’s nice to do it without polluting nature,” Fiorani said.