What happens when you take an old Willys, yank the motor, and put in an electric drivetrain? Matt Farah from Hagerty found out in this video of an electric Jeep. Custom auto shop AI Designs of New York built this custom EV for a customer, and it looks like the best way to restomod a vintage Willys-Overland MB.
A vintage Willys could be the perfect EV platform
Technically the vehicle in the video isn’t a Jeep. It’s a Willys MB. But most of us call anything with removeable doors and no roof a Jeep because the word Jeep came from the World War II acronym for General Purpose, or GP, vehicle. Today Jeep makes the Renegade Willys Sport as a throwback name but it will never draw a crowd like this modified “original” Willys.
What happens when you put Tesla batteries in a Willys?
The Willys may be one of the most perfect vehicles to convert to an EV because they were so simple to begin with. AI Designs’ new Willys EV is two-wheel-drive has a 25-kilowatt battery pack, which was sourced from a salvaged Tesla Model S. AI custom built the drivetrain, interior, and controllers for the motor. The original Willys had an option Go Devil motor, which was a 2.2-liter four cylinder with just 60 hp. It was the first mass-produced four-wheel drive vehicle.
Willys aren’t the only simple old SUVs. Land Rover Series II SUVs were England’s answer to the Willys. They have a following in England that is a dedicated as Jeep folks are here in the U.S. In England Everrati is converting Land Rovers from the 1960s into 150-hp all electric off roaders.
The new Jeep 4xe is the ultimate (for now) electric Jeep
The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most iconic SUVS, and the latest version is the plug-in hybrid 4xe version. It has two electric motors tied to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 4xe Wrangler gets an estimated 50 miles per gallon equivalent rating and can go 21 miles under electric-only power.
The combination of electric and gasoline power means the Wrangler 4xe has 375 horsepower, and a stout 470 lb ft of torque. When you’re off-road the instant torque from the electric motors means that you can have more control. Torque rules when you need to climb and crawl. All that power helps the 4xe accelerate to 60 in about 6 seconds.
The Wrangler 4xe has been rated as one of the best EVs available because of its off-road prowess, its efficiency, and because its the only vehicle you can take the doors off and ford a deep stream.
The Magneto could showcase future Wranglers
Jeep has been teasing us with the Magneto concept for a while. Many are expecting Jeep to officially announce the EV Magneto at the upcoming Jeep Safari on April 17 in Moab, Utah, or during on Monday, April, 4, which is 4×4 day.
The Magento concept is powered by a 285-hp electric motor that is tied to a six-speed manual transmission. The production version would likely have a more conventional one or two-motor electric powertrain, with a single-speed transmission tied to a four-wheel-drive system.
The Magneto will join other Jeep EVs that are expected to be for sale next year as 2024 models.