Jaguar Land Rover's engineering chief Wolfgang Ziebart has told Autocar that “hybrid will become the dominant drivetrain among ‘upper class’ models” in the future as fuel economy regulations appear in most global markets.
Zeibart also told Autocar at last week’s Geneva motor show that, aside from hybrid technology, there were two other technological areas that were “developing fast”.
Those areas include “advanced driver assistance”, as part of a move towards zero fatalities. Ziebart says that a new wi-fi protocol is about to be established, allowing car-to-car communication to become a reality. Also advancing quickly are new and wider “fuel-saving technologies” which could be afforded by the mass-market rather than just by premium manufacturers.
Ziebart said he also saw potential in the next-generation of infotainment systems with which "downloading would become the new functionality”. JLR has just launched its own Apple and Google-compatible ‘In Control’ App, which is downloaded to a smartphone, and appears on the car’s TFT screen “as if it is actually embedded in the car”.
When asked about the chance of a pure battery-powered model from JLR, Ziebart said he thought that the market for EVs “could be bigger outside Europe” and admitted that the company was keeping a close eye on Tesla’s upcoming Model X crossover. “We can’t neglect any segment, and if a segment gets stronger and shows momentum, we would have to react. But we have not made a decision about an EV model.”
“The company is currently in a very intensive phase. We are significantly accelerating out product development, going from one new vehicle per year to one new basic model every six months for the foreseeable future. Our shareholder [India’s Tata] has given us a lot of freedom and we are now reinvesting most of our profits into product development.”
Ziebart said JLR now employed around 6000 people in product development, with the company’s Research and Development department growing by 10 per cent per year over the last three years.