Electric powertrains offer designers the chance to “reinvent the car”, according to Jaguar’s head of design Ian Callum.
Although Callum wouldn’t comment directly on Jaguar’s mooted range of electric cars, which is expected to be previewed with a first concept car in 2017, with sales potentially starting later that year, he said: “My personal view is that electric cars are a new start. Car design will change more in the next 15 years than it has in the past 100 - electrification will kickstart the biggest change in automotive design in history.
“The opportunities an electric powertrain offers are huge, especially in terms of the space for occupants. By removing so much of the mechanical hardware and placing the batteries in the floorplan you open up all sorts of possibilities with packaging. The question is whether you make the cars smaller, but with the same interior space, or keep the cars the same size and offer more space - or perhaps both.”
Callum insisted the opportunities presented by electrification far outweigh the drawbacks, saying: “It offers designers and stylists a much greater freedom. It is an opportunity we must embrace, because we have choice as an industry to either be considered part of the problem of global warming or to be part of the solution.
“I’m clear in my mind that an electric Jaguar would be suitable for the brand. You have to move with the times and design for the opportunities. Look at the C-X75 concept - that was a car that was designed for an alternative powertrain, and nobody had any complaints about how that looked. It just so happened we later fitted a conventional powertrain in the car - but it was designed entirely around an electrified hybrid powertrain”
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Jaguar will kick-start its all-electric car family early in 2018, with a radical take on modern SUV design, with the car launching as a rival to the all-electric Audi Q6 e-tron quattro concept, first revealed at last year’s Frankfurt show. Both vehicles are set to offer a range of around 300 miles and cost about £60,000, with the Jaguar expected to blend the appeal of C-X75 with a package that seats four in comfort. However, the Tesla Model X is expected to beat both to market, with the firm saying it will go on sale in the UK this year.
In preparation for its electric road car programme Jaguar is entering next season’s Formula E electric car racing championship, with testing scheduled to begin in August. It has also patented the EV-Type name, although insiders say this is to protect the name, rather than a definite indication it will be used.