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The Electromod Jeep CJ Surge Concept May Save Your Classic 4×4

Debuting at SEMA 2022 today, the Jeep CJ Surge concept is custom designed and engineered to explore an efficient battery-electric propulsion system for classic Jeep models. With the recent launch of the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) Jeep Avenger at the Paris Auto Show, Jeep made clear its intention to soon have all new Jeeps running on electricity. It seems that vision does not only extend into the future but also to the past.

The Jeep CJ Surge electromod concept has been an opportunity for Mopar designers and engineers to understand potential battery-electric vehicle (BEV) better parts kit applications. The ultimate goal is a future propulsion system offering for enthusiasts to build or convert classic and current cars and trucks into zero-emission vehicles, an entire market segment in itself and one which is sure to be hotly contested.

To demonstrate the potential of this concept, the CJ Surge concept is powered by a custom propulsion system; under the hood is a scalable 400-volt, 200-kilowatt Electric Drive Module which mounts to the frame with custom-designed solid motor mounts. The Jeep is a real 4×4, and power is distributed to all four wheels by 24 lithium-ion battery modules, and torque runs through a two-speed Jeep transfer case with selectable gearing. The battery modules are enclosed in a custom shell mounted in the rear of the passenger cabin, likely a compromise due to the diminutive size of the vehicle.

The Copper Canyon body stands out with gloss black and Surf Blue Surge graphics side striping, and the concept hood, bezel, and iconic seven-slot Jeep grille are painted gloss black.

But this Jeep is no mall crawler; it has serious off-road credibility. The Surge sits high and solid on 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires paired with a 2-inch lift kit; the wheels are matte black 18-by-9-inch Black Rhino Solid that carries Surf Blue accents on the rim beads beneath oversized concept fender flares. The cockpit is protected by a custom-built roll cage, while a custom-shaped bikini top offers shade and cover from the elements mirrored by a set of Mopar all-weather floor mats. Front and rear Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) Dana 44 Crate axles help the CJ Surge concept live up to the Jeep legend.

A JPP Wrangler JK Rubicon Bumper Kit carries a JPP Rubicon Warn winch up front complimented by Surf Blue tow hooks and amber LED fog lamps, while underbody protection is provided by Rubicon skid and front-bumper plates and concept rock rails.

Both driver and passenger are strapped into custom seats installed with concept seat risers, and both seats feature Surf Blue stitching on black Sedoso cloth, and houndstooth fabric inserts. A Wrangler JK center console features a rotary shifter knob, while Mopar instrument-panel gauges include a charge indicator to let the driver know how much battery life remains and when it comes time to charge a custom BEV charge port is located just behind the driver-side door opening.

Time will only tell whether the electromod concept of an electrified propulsion system in a crate package will be practical and affordable; we can only hope.


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Graeme Bell is an author and explorer who has dedicated his life to traveling the planet by land, seeking adventure and unique experiences. Together with his wife and two children, Graeme has spent the last decade living permanently on the road in a self-built Land Rover based camper. They have explored 27 African countries (including West Africa), circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska, which was followed by an exploration of Europe and Western Asia before returning to explore the Americas. Graeme is the Senior Editor 4WD for Expedition Portal, a member of the Explorers Club, the author of six books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015. You can follow Graeme's adventures across the globe on Instagram at graeme.r.bell