Michigan/Munich: Jaguar’s working on its first electric car, a sport utility vehicle with a large glass roof and cutouts in the hood, as the luxury brand joins the race to meet ever-tightening emissions rules.
Scheduled for production in 2018, the I-Pace will go more than 500 kilometers (311 miles) on a single charge, manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement as it unveiled the prototype at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Based on Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV, the new vehicle will have distinctive features such as a low hood and curving wheel arches intended to evoke the look of a sports car.
Jaguar Land Rover, whose best-selling Range Rover SUV is among the industry’s least fuel-efficient rides, is pushing into an increasingly crowded field as competitors seek to finally lift electric cars into the mainstream. Mercedes in September said it’ll offer 10 all-electric models by 2025 as part of its EQ subbrand, while Tesla Motors Inc. has a target of boosting its automaking capacity by 10 times from 2015 levels to 500,000 vehicles a year by 2018.
Carmakers don’t have much choice, with governments around the world cracking down on pollution caused by combustion engines. The European Union, for example, is seeking efficiency improvements in the next five years that would be roughly double the gains made since 2010.
With drivers still slow to embrace electric vehicles, automakers can’t be certain they’ll reap profits from their aggressive, costly development plans. They’re betting that their investments will pay off in the long run, as batteries get cheaper and more powerful, allowing consumers to spend less on electric cars and drive longer on a single charge.
Sales of electrified vehicles could rise to about 35% of global sales by 2040, or 41 million cars, according to a report by Bloomberg. That compares with sales of less than 1 million this year, according to forecaster IHS Automotive.
“We’re just at the beginning,” Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover’s global product marketing director, said in an interview on Sunday at Milk Studios in Los Angeles. “The market’s going to grow because of new entrants, and that will be a really healthy thing.”
By making an SUV its first electric car, Jaguar is hoping to capitalize on growing demand for large family vehicles, while also tackling one of the industry’s worst emissions offenders. Competition in that segment will initially come from Audi, whose first battery-powered SUV is slated for 2018. BMW’s first electric SUV, a version of the X3, is due in 2020, while Mercedes’s first such vehicle under its new green EQ brand is expected in 2019.
Production is set to start in the second half of 2018.
“Some people look at it and see an SUV, others will see a sports car,” McFall said. “And then you’ve got almost the secondary message to say: ‘Oh, by the way, it’s electric.’” Bloomberg