As the 2022 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show kicks off Monday in Las Vegas, Mopar — Stellantis’ OEM accessory division — unveiled a trio of intriguing concept vehicles, led by an electrified Jeep CJ. Even more exciting, the battery electric technology behind it could portend a restomod revival of classic American muscle cars.
“The Jeep CJ Surge concept explores a future zero-emission propulsion system kit and supports the Jeep brand’s mission to become the leading electrified SUV brand in the world,” Mark Bosanac, North America senior vice president, Mopar service, parts and customer care, said in a prepared statement Monday. “Separately, our Ram 1500 Backcountry X and TRX Gold Shot concepts showcase a truckload of innovative Mopar accessories for our award-winning full-size trucks.”
The CJ Surge is what’s known as a restomod (a portmanteau of “restoration” and “modification”), in that they cleaned up an late model CJ7 (the resto part) and swapped out the internal combustion engine for battery-electric propulsion (the mod part). Restomods aren’t strictly electrifications — we’ve been doing them with crate engines for decades — but with automakers swiftly transitioning to battery power from gas, demand from the classic car community for similar capabilities has grown in recent years. In response, Ford has begun prototyping a BEV restomod system called the Eluminator. The Surge is Mopar’s first steps in the same direction.
So rather than an inline-six or v-eight that the CJ7s originally came with, Mopar has dropped in a “scalable 400-volt, 200-kW Electric Drive Module” that provides four-wheel drive capabilities. That powerplant is backed by a 24-module Li-ion battery that sits in a “custom shell mounted in the rear of the passenger cabin,” which you can see as the giant silver box dominating the trunk space in the image above. And rather than a traditional manual transmission, the Surge replaces the stick shift with a Wrangler JK center console and rotary shifter knob.
There’s no word on performance numbers, much less when — or even if — this will ever come to market. If you want to check out the Surge for yourself, you’ll need to get to the Las Vegas Convention Center before November 4th.