ALL new Jaguar Land Rover cars will offer an electric power train from 2020, Britain’s biggest car maker said as it became the latest manufacturer to embrace the electric vehicle revolution.
The company last year unveiled the I-Pace, its first electric car, and Ralf Speth, the chief executive, used a technology event yesterday to underline the Coventry-based firm’s commitment to electric vehicles.
“Every new JLR model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice,” Mr Speth said. “We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.”
The Government has said it will ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel powered cars by 2040, pushing car companies to look at greener alternative forms of power, though hybrid cars with both internal combustion and electric systems are expected to still be permitted.
Mr Speth, however, also took a swipe at the recent announcement, noting there were “no detailed plans behind this bold statement”, adding that JLR did not know the framework in which it will be working. Manufacturers are investing tens of billions as they race to develop electric power trains that are able to match the performance of conventional fuelled engines.
The JLR boss yesterday predicted that autonomous and electrified cars will create massive social change, citing the UK’s 250,000 lorry drivers being made obsolete by self-driving trucks. “These are hardworking people in well-paid jobs,” said the chief executive of the car maker. “What happens to society if they lose their jobs? Who pays for them? What happens to the social fabric because of the mobility revolution?” He also noted that electric cars powered by renewable energy such as wind, solar or nuclear could “change the geopolitical map”, citing predictions of the “end of big oil”.
Research suggests electric cars could see the price of a barrel of oil drop as low as $25, a level that he warned would “put the national budget of oil-producing nations under considerable threat, straining social barriers”.
At JLR’s “Tech Fest” event in London yesterday, the company also unveiled its “Future-Type” concept car. Intended to showcase how cars might look from 2040, it imagines a vehicle with full self-driving capabilities that is not owned but “shared” – meaning people summon a car only when needed.
It also imagines drivers having their own “intelligent steering wheels” that they will carry with them to operate vehicles. As well as driving, JLR expects these voice-activated systems to take control of large aspects of people’s lives, including communication, entertainment and even shopping.
The company calls the idea “Sayer” – named after the designer of the E-type sports car. Under the shared ownership model, these electronic brains could be the only part of a car that people own in the future. However, sceptics point out that smartphones already carry out many of these tasks, rendering the concept obsolete.
JLR is also revealing a classic Sixties E-type Jaguar that has been retrofitted with an electric drive train. Named the “E-type Zero”, the restored 1968 car has been fitted with a 220kW electric system.
Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions as the original XK six-cylinder engine used in the car, and has been fitted in the same space to reproduce the original car’s handling. The refitted E-type is quicker than the original car, capable of 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, one second faster. Tim Hannig, director of JLR’s classic car unit, said combining old design and new tech created a “breathtaking driving sensation”, adding that the car’s “aim is to future-proof classic car ownership”.
Last year JLR sold 583,000 cars, with about two thirds of them built in Britain. About 80pc of the British-built cars were exported and Mr Speth said yesterday that it was “crucial there is free and fair trade” with Europe, as about 40pc of each Jaguar or Land Rover’s components were imported.
Despite this the chief executive said he was “not frustrated” by a seeming lack of progress on a Brexit deal, adding he “trusted” that politicians trying to thrash out a deal “are interested in a better society for their inhabitants and coming up with a mutual success for both sides – Europe and the UK.” Mr Speth added that new technology and ideas can come from anywhere in the globalised world and that the next stage of globalisation “must mature from competition into collaboration”.
“For companies like JLR, globalisation has been a benefit,” he said. “We are now global … but it has not eroded our Britishness.”