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2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan fuses heritage flair and modern tech

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan gives buyers a bit of heritage flair alongside modern tech.

Photo courtesy of Jeep

Black and tans are a classic bar drink and the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan is a classic take on Jeep heritage.

Part of the JL generation of Wranglers, the new Black & Tan edition features 17-inch Machine Granite wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, side steps, Low Gloss badging and a premium tan soft top. It's available in every Wrangler paint jobs.

2020  Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan gives buyers a bit of heritage flair alongside modern tech.Photo courtesy of Jeep

The throwback edition doesn't yield to modern technology. Inside it has a Wizard Black painted instrument panel mid bolster and Heritage Tan cloth seats. It comes standard with Jeep's Technology Group, which includes a 7-inch driver's display screen and dual-zone climate control.

2020  Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan gives buyers a bit of heritage flair alongside modern tech.Photo courtesy of Jeep

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black & Tan starts at $32,940 for the two-door model and has an MSRP of $36,440 for the four-door version.

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Jeep has begun teasing its newest three-row SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Instagram

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It's wood-paneled sides, cavernous interior, go-anywhere capability. It was the bee's knees. Now those vintage models are a collector's item. Soon, it will be reborn.

A new teaser from Jeep simply states, "Grand" and the definition "magnificent or striking in appearance, size, or style". While AutomotiveMap is pretty sure that the teaser is for the return of the Grand Wagoneer, Jeep also has a redo of the Grand Cherokee and a few other things in its sights. Perhaps this is a BOGO (or three or four) teaser.

A Jeep product presentation for investors earlier this year detailed the forthcoming model rollout, including modifications to the plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It states that a new three-row Jeep E-Segment model is coming in the first quarter of 2021. Separately it lists the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer as coming in the second quarter of 2021 followed by the next-generation Grand Cherokee.

All the models are scheduled to have some level of electrification (product plans say PHEV, which would be on-par with the new PHEV Compass, Renegade, and Wrangler offerings) as well as an advanced level of autonomy (don't expect anything too revolutionary here) and connectivity.

The new Wagoneer full-size SUV that Jeep is debuting is expected to compete directly with the Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban was redesigned for the 2021 model year and, in addition to a bevy of tech updates, the model has significantly expanded its third-row legroom.

Product plants show that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are different vehicles. Not much is known for sure about the two models, but rumors are rampant. One that seems to have sticking power is that the Grand Wagoneer will have finer appointments than the Wagoneer, which could be designed to be more off-road-ready.

The Grand Cherokee is going to be a two-row SUV built on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

The most mysterious model is the three-row E-Segment model that Jeep has said is coming. E-Segment models are typically large, showy flagships - sometimes large cars, but other times wagons. Jeep has also said that an electrified version of the Wrangler is on the way. Does A +B = C? Only time will tell.

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Production of the Volkswagen ID.4 will mark the automaker's first all-electric SUV launch. The ID.4 will have about 310 miles of range, depending on the drive package.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is investing heavily into electric vehicles (EVs), even in the U.S. where the models make up a smidgeon of the sales each year. The company has already begun expanding its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory to build a North American center for the engineering and assembly of EVs.

That doesn't mean that they're just working on cars. They're working on the design of the "things" that go into cars as well. Much of this will happen at the Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga. Breaking ground on the center is set to happen soon with the expectation of it being fully operational by spring 2021.

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant Volkswagen is investing $800 million and adding 1,000 jobs at its Tennessee plant. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The EPC will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

"There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries," said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America. "A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter."

The lab will include pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers and – perhaps the most unique – a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

According to Volkswagen, most automotive labs have MASTs, "but almost none were designed for electric vehicle batteries". EV batteries present their own set of testing challenges because of their size and weight. They typically weight hundreds of pounds each, making them the heaviest component in an EV.

"The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara," said Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development. "We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries."

Volkswagen describes the process:

"To run a MAST at such high frequencies, Volkswagen had to design its own tool rather than using an outside supplier. The supports for the MAST will be buried 12 feet under the lab's floor and buttressed with concrete to help withstand the forces in use. Volkswagen's new lab will be only the second location in the country with a MAST of this size."

Volkswagen is building the lab to LEED standards. "This lab was planned to be as sustainable as possible," said Maluche.

The production version of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV is expected to be revealed soon. It will be produced at the factory. The company recently celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off the line at the plant.

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