It’s not often that Jaguar has one up on its German rivals, but it’s well and truly succeeded with its first electric SUV, the I-Pace. Revealed last week and on sale from July, it has trumped its foes, including Audi and its E-tron and Mercedes and its EQ C as the first to market a premium luxury SUV (excepting Tesla’s Model X, of course).
According to Jaguar design boss Ian Callum, it even came as surprise to Jaguar. He told Autocar: “Nobody was more shocked. I don’t think it was something we intended. We’ll have a window of opportunity, maybe six or nine months.”
But the Germans certainly won’t let this Jaguar coup lie. And that’s why we strongly suspect a fleet of lightly disguised Audi E-trons doing laps of the streets of Geneva today and tomorrow isn’t just a coincidence. What better way to steal the limelight from the I-Pace when all of the world’s automotive media just happen to be in town for the world’s biggest motor show?
This stunt will make sure Audi isn’t forgotten amid all the I-Pace buzz. Which is wise, because in contrast to Jaguar which has done a remarkably good job of keeping the I-Pace story going ahead of its launch, Audi has been on the down-low. Since the Q6 E-tron (now just called the E-tron) was confirmed for production in early 2016, we’ve heard very little. No doubt Audi R&D has been busy behind the scenes with the E-tron but, in terms of PR, there’s been very little.
Audi isn’t the only one. Mercedes is launching its EQ C electric SUV, first revealed as a concept at the 2016 Paris motor show, in 2019. And whaddya know? The day after the Jaguar I-Pace was revealed, Mercedes released some official camouflaged images of the car testing, just in case we’d forgotten about it around all the I-Pace hype.
Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. With I-Pace deliveries starting in the summer, E-tron deliveries slated for autumn and EQ C deliveries next year, it won’t be until 2020 that we can really tell which model is favoured in the eyes of car buyers. Let the battle commence.