Jaguar Land Rover was one of the first automakers to offer a long-range all-electric vehicle, and the I-Pace SUV soon will have plenty of company, the British automaker planning to offer nothing but pure battery-electric vehicles wearing the Jaguar badge by 2025.
As part of its new “Reimagine” strategy, JLR Chief Executive Thierry Bollore said Monday, the Land Rover side of the company won’t be far behind, introducing six BEVs of its own by mid-decade. The first will come to market by 2024. All-electric models are expected to generate 60% of Land Rover’s volume by 2030, the company forecast.
“It’s time to re-imagine the next chapter for both brands,” Bollore said in a statement revealing the company’s new strategy.
Jaguar Land Rover was early EV pioneer
Jaguar began shifting direction more than four years ago with the unveiling of the concept version of the I-Pace at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. The long-range battery-electric vehicle debuted in production form in 2018 and became the first of its kind in the luxury market.
Since then, competitors including Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz have announced plans to add their own BEVs, Cadillac officials last year laying out plans to go entirely electric by 2030. (Its parent, General Motors, recently said it “aspires” to be 100% BEV by 2035.)
The Jaguar brand previously confirmed plans to launch an all-electric version of its flagship sedan, the XJ, and was believed to be working on other products, but Monday’s announcement by JLR takes things a significant step beyond.
Plans for all-electric Jaguar XJ scrapped
Among the surprise developments announced Monday, the XJ project has been scrapped, at least for now, JLR saying in its statement that, “Although the nameplate may be retained, the planned Jaguar XJ replacement will not form part of the line-up, as the brand looks to realize its unique potential.”
It didn’t explain the decision to drop the XJ project but there could be several explanations. For one thing, the sedan would have come to market at a time when buyers are rapidly switching from passengers cars to light trucks. In the U.S., Cox Automotive analysts recently forecast, SUVs, CUVs, pickups and other light trucks will account for as much as 79% of new vehicle sales this year.
The decision may also reflect a technical shift in direction. Jaguar now will adopt a “pure electric architecture,” a flexible, skateboard-like platform, to be shared with all of its future BEVs.
Separately, the Land Rover brand will rely on two different platforms. The EMA, or electric modular architecture,
will underpin battery-only products, while the modular longitudinal architecture, or MLA, will be used for future hybrids.
JLR to invest Heavily in BEVs
JLR, which is owned by India’s Tata Motors, expects to invest around 2 billion pounds, or $3.5 billion, annually at current exchange rates, on both electrified vehicles and connected vehicle technologies. That would work out to around $17.5 billion by mid-decade. By comparison, JLR’s former owner, Ford Motor Co., recently more than doubled its EV spending to $22 billion during the same period.
The automaker also said it is developing hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which some clean-car advocates believe could provide an alternative to battery propulsion. It expects to have prototype fuel-cell vehicles in operation over the coming year.
The shift to battery power marks the most significant development at JLR since Bollore took over as CEO last September – though the program was under development before the retirement of Ralf Speth who had helmed the automaker during the previous decade.
Turning a profit could be challenging
Despite the heavy investment in R&D, JLR said Monday that it is “on a path towards” a double-digit operating profit after struggling financially in recent years. It said it will be cash-flow positive – excluding debt payments – by 2025. Achieving a
profit would be a significant milestone considering the heavy losses automakers currently are running up on EVs.
The shift to battery power by JLR and other luxury brands comes at a time when BEVs account for less than 2% of global market share. Demand is expected to pick up rapidly as range and performance improve and more products come to market in a broad range of vehicle segments.
Manufacturers also face increasing pressure from regulators intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. China recently announced a target of reaching 20% of the market using hybrids or BEV technology by 2025. The UK, meanwhile, moved up plans to go all-electric. It will require all new vehicles to use some form of battery power by 2030, eliminating hybrids from the mix by 2035.
Even now, carmakers are struggling to meet tightening mandates. JLR said it set aside 35 million pounds, or $48.7 million, to vover fines for missing EU emissions targets last year.