Parent firm Tata has previously pioneered the technology, and insiders say the company has made significant progress with overcoming the problem of the additional unsprung weight of in-wheel motors.
Jaguar hopes to outpunch all rivals, however, by giving
the car the most distinctive styling of any EV on the market. It is understood that Tata has given the green light for Jaguar to pioneer the group’s all-electric technology and wants the brand’s first such model to deliver a distinctive statement of its intent to lead in electrification. The styling is said to be revolutionary, in the way that the BMW i brand sits separately from the firm’s mainstream models.
It is reported that this fact played a key role in the decision to allow the C-X75 to be used in the latest Bond film, Spectre. The car, which was built as a concept for the 2010 Paris show, was powered by four electric motors driven by diesel-fed gas turbines and had an electric range of about 30 miles. It was announced that up to 250 production cars would be made, powered by a downsized turbocharged petrol engine.
Although prototypes were made in conjunction with the Williams F1 team, the project was cancelled at the height of the economic downturn in December 2012.
Now, however, the C-X75’s enduring popularity - driven by its appearance in the Bond film - and its original role as a standard bearer for ground-breaking technology are set to be harnessed in the design of the all-electric SUV.
Blog - Why Jaguar is taking a leaf out of Tesla's book
As such, a debut at next year’s Paris show, six years after the C-X75 was first shown, is said to be a distinct possibility. It will be revealed as a concept - and our rendering is highly speculative - but the production version’s styling is said to be nearly identical to the upcoming show car, in line with Jaguar design director Ian Callum’s mantra of only showing concepts that are very close to production reality.
This decision also explains why Jaguar resisted the urge to use the C-X75’s appearance in Spectre to reignite sales plans for the hypercar. The benefits and profitability of selling even 250 C-X75s at around £750,000 each are said to be marginal beyond boosting brand profile, but
the launch of Jaguar’s first
all-electric vehicle is a crucial step in the firm’s growth.
It is understood the all-electric SUV will sit on the same aluminium architecture as the XE and F-Pace. The platform was designed with an all-electric powertrain in mind, as well as a variety of hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications.
Earlier this year JLR announced it was stepping up development of ultra-low-emissions technologies by doubling the size of its engineering and design centre in Whitley, Coventry. The site is expanding from 55 to 110 acres and has been earmarked for advanced powertrain and engineering teams, plus Jaguar’s design and advanced design departments and the firm’s global headquarters.
The investment is motivated by increasingly tight global emissions legislation, led by new Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) rules introduced in California and adopted by seven other US states.
These laws demand that, between 2018 and 2025, the number of new ZEVs sold must rise from 5% of all new cars to 15.4%. With those standards set to be replicated in many global markets, Jaguar and Land Rover must be able to meet targets to avoid penalties.
Jaguar also believes it has the ability to seize the initiative over its rivals by launching its first all-electric SUV ahead of or in line with their targets. With global demand for SUVs growing, insiders are said to believe that the timing of their launch and the bodystyle are perfectly positioned.
Sources also highlight Jaguar’s global dealer network as a key asset. It has been ramped up this year for the launch of the XE and F-Pace, and officials believe the size of the network gives them an opportunity to leapfrog Tesla’s customer reach.
Although Jaguar is leading JLR’s EV charge, Land Rover is expected to follow suit once its models move onto the new common architecture.
While Jaguar wants to maintain the sporty performance of its cars even in all-electric spec, Land Rover is said to be willing to trade performance for opulence and refinement. It plans to take advantage of the near-silent powertrain characteristics to set new standards in cabin ambience, as well as using the instant torque of electric motors to enhance off-road ability.
Previously, JLR has applied for patents for technology related to inductive charging, suggesting it could combine the launch with wireless charging. The firm has also applied to trademark the name ‘EV-Type’, although this is no indication of a definitive name. The car is likely to be made at the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria. Jaguar has confirmed that it will be moving some model lines to the facility to free up capacity in the UK. The smaller scale of the Graz facility would be well suited to the electric model.
The new cars Jaguar's electric SUV must beat
Tesla Model X (2016) - Tesla has already started deliveries of its Model X SUV in the US. It’s due to go on sale in right-hand-drive form next year, priced at around £65k. It sits on the same platform as the Model S, and early models will share a powertrain with the high-performance P90D version of that car. The Model X’s standout feature is its spectacular gullwing rear doors, designed to make it easier to get in and out of the rear cabin.
Audi Q6 e-tron quattro (2018) - The Jaguar’s biggest mainstream rival will come from Audi, which has already promised to launch a production version of its e-tron quattro concept by 2018. The electric Q6 should be right in the middle of the Jaguar’s price range, since Audi sources have said their car will cost the same as a well-equipped A6 - or around £60k. Expect a three-motor set-up - one front, two rear - with a total of more than 430bhp, along with a battery range of around 300 miles.
Volvo Electric SUV (2019) - Volvo is already committed to providing plug-in hybrid versions of its entire line-up, but the Swedish car maker will also launch a fully electric model by 2019. It’s almost certain to be a mid-sized SUV, slotting in below the XC90 but with a price similar to that of the Audi and Jaguar. Volvo’s electric SUV is expected to be based on the same Scalable Platform Architecture as the XC90 and use lithium ion battery tech to provide a range of around 325 miles.