JLR fully committed to an electric future

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Words: NZ Autocar
24 Mar 2020

Jaguar Land Rover has long voiced the opinion that it wants to be one of the world leaders in electric vehicle manufacturing. To that end, it is converting its Castle Bromwich assembly plant into a specialist EV production centre. The factory in Solihull is also being overhauled to accept the new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) EV underpinnings.

It is thought that a trio of new fully electric models will be built at Castle Bromwich, production getting underway towards the end of 2021. First up there’s a pair of pure EV crossovers. Land Rover is to produce the ‘Road Rover’ which is evidently a development name, while Jaguar’s J-Pace will be its flagship high-riding EV.

Both will be relatively ground hugging with aero styling for improved range. Expect the J-Pace to be luxurious, with more futuristic styling than the F-Pace which gets a facelift for 2021. The range topping J-Pace will also likely be getting a six-cylinder petrol engine at some point, presumably as part of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Each will ride on the MLA platform, which can accept a pure EV set-up, a plug-in hybrid and even a traditional gas-powered engine. The I-Pace has a unique platform and will continue to be built on this in Austria.

It’s unclear currently whether the XE, XF and F-Type have a long term future. Of these, the most likely to survive is the F-Type which is in the midst of renewal. Its shape is not yet set in stone.

XE continues to sell in disappointing numbers, and it is possible that this and XF will be replaced by a crossover eventually. SUVs command by far the biggest slice of the new vehicle pie in Europe, sitting on 38 per cent, twice that of the next best selling supermini segment. Executive sedans account for just over two per cent of EU sales nowadays.

Perhaps XE and XF will also go electric to remain viable. Because that’s what is happening to XJ, the third new EV mentioned for JLR. Its forthcoming replacement will feature pure electric drive, and it is due to be unveiled before year’s end. It’s said to be styled unconventionally - just like its predecessor then - and will be “a driver’s car”.

It is certainly an interesting time for JLR at present but then it needs to change as it risks being overtaken by the likes of Volvo which is now bigger into SUVs than ever before, and faring well as a result.

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