Further out, it’s thought that the first globally targeted Land Rover EV will be the so-called ‘Road Rover’, which will be much lower and more aerodynamic than other Range Rovers.
Despite JLR’s new ‘Project Charge’ cost-cutting efforts, Autocar understands the Road Rover is still on the company’s model cycle plan and will most closely compete with Porsche’s next-generation electric Macan and be twinned with the next-generation Jaguar XJ.
The future, MLA-based Velar could also be offered in pure-electric form, but that next-generation model is thought to be more than four years away from launch, and remains at the planning stage.
In the shorter term, the long-awaited Defender will be revealed to the public this year. It will be sold in mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms. Fears that a plug-in Defender, with an electrically powered rear axle, would be compromised off road are, Autocar understands, misplaced.
An electric motor offers maximum torque from step-off and the torque delivery is far more controllable than with a conventionally driven rear axle, greatly improving off-road performance.
There’s no firm news on a pure-electric version of the Defender, but it remains a possibility. However, a plug-in hybrid with 35 miles of silent and emission-free electric range could be as useful off road as in a city centre.
In the immediate future, the new Range Rover Evoque, which rolls on a completely re-engineered platform and has received praise for its refinement and poise, is already available with a mild-hybrid set-up, assisted by a belt-driven starter/generator.
Early next year, though, the Evoque plug-in hybrid will arrive using a three-cylinder engine, a 48V hybrid system and an electrically driven rear axle. The three-cylinder engine alone develops a healthy 197bhp and 148lb ft of torque from 1.5 litres. In addition, the electric motor on the rear axle generates 106bhp and 192lb ft. The vehicle’s electric range is expected to be about 35 miles.
The Discovery Sport – until recently Land Rover’s best-selling model – has been suffering against some strong competition, from Volvo especially. Judging by the reception for the new Evoque, however, its imminent reinvention as a more luxurious car with both mild-hybrid engines and plug-in capability should significantly revitalise sales in 2020.
Jaguar Land Rover posts £3.4 billion loss in final quarter of 2018