Yes, that’s a Jeep Gladiator in the image above, which is inherently not electric (quite the opposite actually). However, thanks to Magna International’s new EtelligentTerrain EV powertrain system, 4WD combustion vehicles like Jeeps will soon be able to tear up muddy terrain without any emissions. I recently got invited to Mt. Magna in Michigan, where I tested the new EV powertrain system, climbed the mountain, and sprayed mud EVERYWHERE. Watch me go below.
Magna International is a globally recognized automotive contract manufacturer that currently reigns as the largest in North America and the fourth largest on the planet. It currently operates over 130 production and assembly facilities across North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, showing no signs of slowing down, recording $4.652 billion in gross profits for 2022 and well on its way to surpassing that number in 2023.
The past year, we’ve seen Magna commit to nearly a billion dollars invested in its North American operations, including $470 million in Canada, where it’s globally headquartered, in addition to another $500 million in Michigan, where its US headquarters sits.
Last week, I got the opportunity to visit the company’s HQ in Troy, Michigan, where the team took me out to its Mt. Magna terrain park, and I got the chance to explore new and developing EV technologies and make quite a delightful mess while doing so.
Magna turned a Jeep Gladiator into a sweet off-road EV
On the first half of the day with Magna on its home turf, I visited the renowned Mt. Magna in Southeast Michigan. This was a very different experience from my visit to Magna last year, where we towed 10,000 pounds of cargo around a track at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac.
The focus of this trip was, of course, electrification but also new technology Magna has integrated into four-wheel drive vehicles to deliver powerful and effective BEV conversions. Example A is the Jeep Gladiator prototype, featuring Magna’s EtelligentTerrain powertrain system.
The new system combines Magna’s eBEAM technology into a dual-motor configuration designed to electrify sport and light-utility vehicles for both on and off-road situations. Here’s an all-electric Jeep Gladiator featuring the system ripping up Mt. Magna without issue.
Magna’s EtelligentTerrain system consists of a steerable eBEAM motor (Mid) in the front, complete with a remote inverter (no room up front for it in the Jeep) and a 2-in-1 offset on the axle to make room for the EV’s steering column. The front also features a disconnect unit and park-lock capabilities, perfect for climbs like the one seen above.
Unlike the front powertrain, the rear axle eBEAM (High) is coaxial and has an integrated inverter since there’s a lot more space. It comes with a higher gross axle weight rating (GAWR) compared to the front (5,000 pounds vs. 3,000 pounds) but delivers significantly more power and torque.
In the case of the Jeep Gladiator, Magna utilizes an 83 kWh battery pack, but a production model would definitely see a larger battery. The truck was equipped with third-party QuadLink-Coil spring/solid axle suspension in the front and back to handle the higher weight of the battery pack while keeping the Gladiator as close as possible to its standard model ride height.
After summiting Mt. Magna, I got the opportunity to do some burnouts in the fresh mud after an entire night of thunderstorms. Who am I to say no? Since there are virtually no off-road BEVs aside from Rivian, my experience in the dirt has been limited, and it shows. After my first run, I forgot I was still in reverse, so when I tried my second burnout, I was able to showcase how effective the brakes on Magna’s EV prototype are. Have a laugh with me:
Shoutout to Ben Sanders for capturing my mistake and the correct mud-inducing burnout that ensued:
Just like I wrote it up.
Magna’s EtelligentTerrain EV system will not be sold retail but instead will only be available to OEMs that are perhaps looking to electrify existing Class 1 chassis. The dual motor system and its ability to include the inverter on the axle or remotely offers flexibility for a number of vehicle implementations. It paired quite well with the Jeep Gladiator, in my opinion, so why not make that one a full EV?
We know Magna has already committed to helping INEOS build 4×4 EVs, so perhaps we will see this technology in those upcoming models in the next few years.
Magna International is showing once again why it’s one of the most trusted in the business. It not only builds reliable, cutting-edge components, but it also continues to research and develop new ways to make vehicles safer, more efficient, and now, more sustainable. All while still delivering the capability to carve your name in cursive in a muddy field somewhere.
I’ll have more Magna EV innovations from my visit to share soon, so stay tuned.
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