Monday September 11, 2017
By Richard Bosselman
DON’T expect Jaguar Land Rover to give up on internal combustion engines any time soon.
This today from the brand’s New Zealand distributor, in light of the parent’s announcement that it will introduce electric drivetrains to all product from 2020.
Explanation of a battery-assist determination announced in the lead-up to this week’s Frankfurt motor show was provided as Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand revealed a flash new Range Rover, the Velar and also offered more comment about its plans for Jaguar’s first all-electric car, the I-Pace, which might be here in late 2018.
The parent brand’s intention to offer greener versions of its sporty Jaguar cars and Land Rover SUVs is not unexpected - Governments are increasingly cracking down on air pollution and CO2 emissions.
The weekend’s announcement out of the United Kingdom seems to have already been as misconstrued by some in general media as even more aggressive EV undertaking outlined two several months by Volvo was.
Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand moved to clear the air today, explaining the process doesn’t mean Jaguar is set, as some have suggested, to divest its fossil fuelled powerplants and go fully electric within three years. Actually, there’s every likelihood engines it has now will power on for years to come.
While there will be full-electrics – starting with the medium all-wheel-drive four-seater crossover that Jaguar has signalled as a luxury foil to Telsa’s Model X, among others – the conjoined brands will also front, as Volvo plans to do, with plug in hybrid and mild hybrid technology that patently requires on-going association with combustion engines.
Further, as product manager Michael Jones emphasised today, JLR intends for electrification to be an option, no more.
“We’re not saying everything will be electric,” he stated.
“There will be an option for each new product from 2020 to have an electrified option. It’s not saying we will be fully electric. It will be an expansion of the model line.
“That’s not saying that there won’t be a diesel or a petrol … but electrification is very much a focal point for JLR.”
The full extent of the company’s game plan is still being unrolled. For instance, it is not yet known how it will affect the Velar (left), a swank four-seater that ostensibly sits between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport though it comes closer to the second by pricing from $134,900 in base S form reaching to $157,850 in top R-Line HSE trim, with a myriad of options able to pump those stickers much higher.
The car has launched with 3.0-litre V6 engines, in petrol and diesel, both shared with the Sport, and for now the only other powerplants available are the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium units that Jones says are still under review, but with no decision about introduction made.
Could it also be developed in an electric form? With BMW having already thrown down the gauntlet with announcement that the next X3, a cited rival, will come out in pure EV as well as orthodox formats, it would seem sensible. But Jones says that’s pure conjecture; nothing is known locally.
Nonetheless, the programme is affecting other familiar product. For instance, JLR is expected to unveil plug-in hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport large SUVs in the near future and potentially they are in JLRNZ’s thoughts, with Jones conceding that I-Pace is not the only battery-driven product set to come.
“We haven’t got any visibility on that … but we would definitely use the I-Pace to evaluate that potential and then, obviously subject to that, look to bring them in as and when they come out.”
He said the Auckland-domiciled operation was optimistic about the local market potential for full and partial electric product, though it also hoped the recharging network would be stronger shape than it is at present.
“The (EV) market is growing here. The charge network is also growing with other competitors entering the market … at the moment it is better in the hubs (main centres) than maybe in some of the provincial areas … so hopefully when I-Pace comes the network will be a more sustainable and realistic proposition.”
I-Pace is already shaping up to be an international sales giant, with JLR chief executive Ralf Speth citing on Saturday that it has already drawn 25,000 orders already. Jones agrees it is the primary product of the moment.
“I-Pace is a fantastic in-house designed and built car so, if it lives up to the reputation it has got, there is no reason why we wouldn’t want to have electrification across the range. (But) full electric is where the opportunity really is.”
Jones says the local market positioning is still being formulated. “We are still in discussion, we do not have anything confirmed (in respect to specification and pricing).”
When pressed about whether it would be five or six-figure car, he suggested the latter, but added “it won’t be the highest priced Jaguar”, offering thought that the $130,000 V6 F-Pace might be considered equivalent conventional current product. “But, to be honest, this (pricing) is so far down the line that we have not got to that point of the discussion.”
Other likely rivals for I-Pace include the Audi Q6 e-tron – another SUV that is of similar size to Jaguar’s – coming next year and the Porsche Mission-E sports sedan, which might be available by 2019.
The production version of I-Pace has yet to be seen, but it is expected to follow the form and technology shown on the concept that unveiled at last year’s Los Angeles motor show.
The design study uses liquid-cooled 90kWh lithium-ion batteries that drive two rare earth magnetic electric motors, located one a piece on the front and rear axles, for a total power output of 295kW and 700Nm of torque have been developed in-house and use pouch cells for their energy density and efficiency.
These will, Jaguar claims, allow at least 500 kilometres of range on a single charge. They are also quick-recharge items, able to give 80 percent charge in 90 minutes and 100 percent in just over two hours from a 50kW DC charging point.
The batteries sit low, and between the axles, to give a centre of gravity that’s 120mm lower than the F-Pace, so handling remains good, Jaguar says. Even though the I-Pace is hardly a lightweight at 2100kgs, there’s still the usual EV attraction of superb acceleration, with 0-100kh of around four seconds cited.
The I-Pace features an all-new aluminium platform, and the compact size of the electric motors – each one has an outer diameter of 234mm and a length of 500mm – allow plenty of space in the cabin to enable comfort for up to five occupants.
Much of the car’s hardware seems to be from the F-Pace, including the double-wishbone front suspension – also shared with the F-Type sports car - and the compact Integral Link rear suspension.
The exterior has a cab-forward design, taking cues from Jaguar’s 2010 C-X75 supercar with a coupelike silhouette. The low bonnet, which – with the motors sited on the axles, covers a luggage space - and wide wheel arches accentuate the sporty look and there’s a touch of the exotic with a composite spoiler to reduce lift at higher speeds, though the I-Pace also benefits from a drag coefficient of 0.29, which is very low for a SUV or crossover.