Written by Theo König – September 23, 2021
Reviewed by Asaf Kedem
Electric pick-up SUVs seem to be the rage of 2021. High profile launches for the Ford F-150 lightning, the GM electric Hummer, the Rivian, and not to mention the Tesla Cybertruck are just a few that are racing to hit the market. Meanwhile, a similar market has struggled to electrify itself at the same pace. The market for off-road SUVs that includes the iconic Jeep wrangler and the Ford Bronco, has resisted the push towards electrification.
One company that hopes to change this is Vanderhall USA. Whereas the Jeep Wrangler is only now being offered as a hybrid, and the dream of an electric Ford Bronco remains a simple rumor, Vanderhall have introduced a fully electric, off-road SUV called the Brawley. Set to be released in 2022, Vanderhall hope to become one of the first companies to supply a fully electric mid-sized SUV. In fact, if the release date is achieved, Brawley may be the first to hit the market, with the next best alternative being the all-electric Jeep Wrangler set for 2023 and the all-electric Suzuki Jimny planned for 2024.
Vanderhall originally started in 2010 as a "three-wheel company." The company’s other vehicles, including the Venice and the Carmel are gas-powered, 3-wheel vehicles known for their open-air design. With the launch of the Brawley, the company is entering uncharted territory, both in terms of electrification and number of wheels.
The 4 individually controlled electric motors offer a very reasonable amount of torque and power (identical to the current gas-powered Jeep Wrangler), but customers may yet be put-off by the limited 200+ mile range. It’s certainly one of the specifications that customers weigh heavily, and given the nature of the vehicle, the sparse range may have customers opting for hybrid alternatives or simply waiting until improvements are made to the battery.
Nevertheless, the Brawley is packed with impressive features. For starters, Vanderhall insist that the Brawley will require no maintenance whatsoever for up to 10 years. This is accomplished by creating a powertrain with the motor, inverter, geartrain, brakes and cooling system all housed inside a single unit. The use of advanced materials that are resistant to extreme temperatures and breakthroughs in lubricants means customers can save in terms of maintenance costs.
The Brawley clears a remarkable 46 cm (18”) off the ground thanks to the impressive 89 cm (35”) tires and features a comfortable 55 cm (22”) suspension travel (distance from the bottom to the top of the suspension stroke). As a quick comparison, the current hybrid Jeep Wrangler (4xe) offers 40 cm (15.5”) of suspension travel and ground clearance of 28 cm (10.8”).
Auto Trendy’s take:
There may be a reason why the off-road SUVs have been hesitant to go electric – the range. As great as it is to see more and more companies cross into uncharted territories, we feel like this move might be ever so slightly premature. We’d love to be proven wrong but given Vanderhall’s limited experience in the off-road SUV market (and simultaneously the reluctance of the heavy weights to enter the market), we’re a little skeptical for the success of the Brawley. That being said, Vanderhall have impressed in creating a vehicle from scratch that is able to compete with the gas-powered rivals in terms of everything outside of range. Hopefully future versions of the Brawley can maintain their output while improving their battery range.