Jaguar Land Rover bosses are considering transforming the company into an EV-only brand within the next decade. It is understood that company’s product planners have produced an outline strategy under which Jaguar’s conventional vehicle range would be phased out over the next five to seven years, to be replaced by fully electric vehicles.
Under the plans being considered, a full-on luxury electric sedan, replacing the XJ, is expected within two years. It will be a direct competitor for Porsche’s upcoming Taycan, alongside strong-selling cars such as the Tesla Model S.
Rethought as an electric vehicle, the new XJ will both play to the strengths of the 1967 original by offering segment-leading refinement and ride and look to the future by completely reinventing the classic Jaguar interior.
It is understood that the new XJ will be a no-holds-barred luxury car in every sense, offering customers a zero-pollution alternative to a Mercedes-Benz S-class or even a Bentley Flying Spur.
The thinking is that Jaguar will steal a march on rivals by building a true luxury EV in a segment that is probably the most environmentally minded and offers greater profitability per car than lower segments. EVs also fit in perfectly with the brief of a modern-day chauffeur of private hire driver, with excellent mechanical refinement and the ability to enter low-emission zones in cities without financial penalties.
As the XE and XF reach the end of their lives in 2023, they could be replaced by an all-electric crossover slightly bigger than Audi’s E-tron. An all-new I-Pace would arrive in 2025 as the E-Pace and F-Pace models are phased out. Jaguar would be nearly all-electric by 2026, with only the flagship J-Pace luxury crossover surviving until 2027 or so. And with no replacement for the F-Type in the works for when it dies in the first half of the 2020s, an electric Jaguar sports car is also a possibility.
Early internal estimates suggest that a four or five-model all-electric Jaguar line-up could sell as many as 3,00,000 units per year, benefiting from much higher retail prices and surfing a trend that is expected to see a sizeable chunk of the luxury vehicle market switching to battery power.
The electric vehicle proposal has received added impetus from the extremely strong reception for the new electric I-Pace and Jaguar’s continued involvement in Formula E — the new I-Type 3 Gen 2 single-seater racing car has also just been unveiled — giving the perfect introduction to revolutionising the brand, according to insiders.
Our sister publication, Autocar UK, understands that although the outline of a reinvention of Jaguar has reached a fairly advanced stage, the project still does not have the green light. JLR’s dramatic plans come against a background of mediocre sales for Jaguar’s three-model sedan car range, which has forced the company to introduce a three-day week for the rest of 2018 at its Castle Bromwich factory. Executives at Tata, Jaguar’s Indian parent company, are said to be extremely unhappy by the brand’s recent performance, given its extensive investment.
Although Jaguar sales have been hit by both concerns over the future of diesel and some Brexit uncertainties, the latest sales figures for the XE, XF and XJ – all of which are made in Castle Bromwich – show evidence that buyers are shunning Jaguar’s sedans.
The good news for Jaguar is that the E-Pace is now the company’s second-bestselling model, after the F-Pace, although the E-Pace’s August sales were well below those of its elderly Range Rover Evoque sister model.
The dilemma facing JLR senior management is clear. As product plans are laid for the company’s next generation of cars based on the MLA aluminium platform, can investment in three replacement Jaguar sedans be justified? Indeed, is there any profitable future for conventional Jaguar sedan cars of any kind?
If the XE, XF and XJ models are dropped in their current forms after this generation, what future would there be for a Jaguar brand that amounted to, say, three crossovers? Dealers would probably be unable to thrive with such a small range and sources say that, at that point, the Jaguar brand would be difficult to support as a going concern.
All of these reasons are why the JLR board finds itself closely examining a plan that would result in an all-electric Jaguar line-up.
Sources say that developing viable battery-powered Land Rover models is very difficult without diluting the brand’s values. Difficulties include the need to substantially change the styling to create a small frontal area and the complexity of making EVs safe in situations such as fording rivers.
Many in JLR believe that this radical plan is win-win. It gives Jaguar perhaps its last best chance to grow into a self- supporting brand; it ensures JLR has bespoke entries in the growing global market for luxury EVs; and, if successful, it reduces the company’s CO2 average, lessening the pressure on Land Rover to produce electric models that are not true to the brand.