Every spring since 1967 the Easter Jeep Safari has brought four-wheelers to Moab in a great annual migration that rivals that of the wildebeests across the Serengeti, and with similar traction in the dirt. The siren call goes out and pretty soon the bucolic uranium mining town is awash in Jeeps, most of them Wranglers, none of them stock. This year’s EJS is March 27-April 4. For the last 10 or 15 years a part of the magnificent ritual of Moab and the EJS is the “Unveiling o’ the Concepts” by Jeep. This has usually taken place in an area held sacred by Jeepers, the parking lot of Walker Drug at 209 Main Street. If you go to EJS this year, you’ll see four brand-new concepts, and a few old ones, all cool and fun.
This year’s fleet is lead by an intriguing all-electric Wrangler called the Magneto. No, not the Marvel comic book character. It’s a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon powered by electricity alone. There are some really interesting things about this concept. The 70-kWh lithium ion battery pack, for instance, is broken up into four different packs and distributed around the Wrangler for better weight balance. One pack sits in the middle where the fuel tank used to be, another is opposite the fuel tank, a third rides in the rear storage compartment, and the fourth rides atop of the electric motor.
The electric motor itself is cool because it is an axial flow motor, otherwise known as a pancake. It is flat and round like a pancake, freeing up room for other things, like that battery. As I wrote in my doctoral thesis in Electrical Engineering (or did I find it on Wikipedia?): “An axial flux motor is a geometry of motor construction where the gap between the rotor and stator, and therefore the direction of magnetic flux between the two, is aligned parallel with the axis of rotation, rather than radially as with the concentric cylindrical geometry of the more common radial gap motor.” Of course.
This axial flux motor makes 273 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque in a surprisingly narrow space. That output is about what the 3.6-liter gasoline-fed V6 Pentastar engine makes. Jeep says the Magneto gets to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
Depending on what tires they put on it—looks like 35-inch Falken Wildpeaks with big meaty tread blocks—the Magneto could easily get over 150 miles range, maybe 200 miles. Right now you can get a Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid right off the showroom floor, so it would be logical to assume that a full-electric production Wrangler would be somewhere on the horizon. Let’s hope it is.
And in a rarity lately, and almost unheard of in an EV, the Magneto has a six-speed manual transmission. Remember, the first Tesla Roadster had a two-speed manual trans during its early development. I drove that one and I loved the trans. Statistics vary from 18 percent to 66 percent of Americans who claim they can drive a stick, but the 66-percent survey was paid for by a company trying to justify offering a manual transmission. Nonetheless, I gotta think Jeep owners are not typical car buyers and could handle rowing their own gears. So I say, don’t be afraid, MOPAR, offer the manual!
Jeep Red Bare
The Jeep Red Bare is a custom Gladiator concept 4×4 with a diesel engine and a nearly absurd 91:1 crawl ratio. Presumably you no longer have to park in the underground garage but can just drive up the side of your building to your office.
The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 makes 260 hp but a whopping 442 lb-ft of torque. Dana 44 axles ride front and rear with 4.88 axle ratios, making the most of that torque. The rig sports a JPP 2-inch lift kit and 37-inch BFG mud-terrain tires, as well as JPP slider rock rails. Maybe you really could drive up that building.
It would look good doing so, with Fire Cracker Red exterior sporting matte black graphics, and Katzkin leather seats with red flannel inserts inside.
Jeep Orange Peelz
This two-door Wrangler-based concept features removable side and rear windows and prototype half-doors under a removable one-piece Freedom Top glass sunroof. Like the Red Bare, it rides on a two-inch JPP Lift and 37-inch tires, these are BFG KM3 mudders. The name Orange Peelz refers to the ride’s custom color.
This one began life as a 1968 Commando and then the design department blended it with a 2021 Jeep Wrangler. The Commando, as you’ll recall from 1968, was a fairly well-appointed vehicle for its day considering its 4×4 roots. It had an automatic transmission, for instance, and unlike the Jeep CJs of the time, it boasted modern amenities, such as doors, roll-up side glass, a heater, and roof as standard equipment. So the Jeepster Beach gets all those, too, though nowadays those are almost a given, even in a Jeep.
The concept’s two-tone paint job uses colors called Hazy IPA and Zinc Oxide. So clever, those color-naming people.
Under the hood is a twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injected 2.0-liter four making 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Inside are low-back bucket seats trimmed in red leather for the front seats, while the rears were removed and replaced with a cargo floor.
Also present this year are the Jeep Farout, Wrangler Rubicon 392, and Top Dog concepts.
If you’ve never been, you really should block the Easter Jeep Safari on your calendar one of these years. This year the weeklong festival was canceled twice before local and state officials gave it the final go-ahead. The big vendor expo is cancelled this year, though. So maybe it’ll be less crowded and you can get into the Moab Brewery without having to bribe the maître d’ with uranium stock. Then order the Moab Monster burger and the Jalapeno Beer Fries. They will sustain you for the four-wheelin’ you’ll be doing in the morning. And don’t forget to stop at Walker Drug!
Also, go to Back of Beyond Books at 83 N. Main St. You’ll wind up staying a couple hours reading all about the Colorado Plateau on which Moab sits. And send me a postcard—I can’t go this year!
Have you had the privilege of participating in the Easter Jeep Safari? If so, let us know in the comments below.
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