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Jaguar Land Rover I-Pace: First of many

The new I-Pace. Source: Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover to keep pace with UK government plans to encourage EV research and manufacturing

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced this week that it wishes to make half of its available cars hybrid or all-electric by the end of the decade, after showcasing its first electric car at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month – giving the company just three years to make the switch.

Employing two electric motors – one for each axle – the new I-Pace looks to marry the sporty power of Jaguar and rugged reliability of the Land Rover. With help from a 400-horsepower motor with a torque capable of lifting 516 pounds, the I-Pace matches the Jaguar F-Type SVR sports car, going from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds.

The I-Pace indicates the start of a movement divergent from attempts by companies such as Tesla to pack the largest amount of energy output into the smallest battery. Instead, companies such as JLR are attempting to take other measures to solve the ‘battery problem’ and ameliorate range anxiety anxiety. An example can be the introduction of wheel motors with integrated brakes and motor controllers to increase range by 15%. An 8% range bump can be achieved by putting wide bandgap semiconductors in motor controllers – also reducing the need for water cooling.

IDTechEx reports Future Powertrains 2016-2036 and Electric Motors for EVs 2017-2027 try to organise some of the confusion surrounding this new trend. The latter especially focusses on what companies are doing to perfect multifunction, integration, power increase, voltage increase, less metal/more electronics, and less cooling with predictions that the traction motor business will rise to about US$400 billion by 2027.

A medley of regulations

The announcement by Tata-owned UK-based company also indicates it is reacting to policies which are aiming to encourage proliferation of EVs. JLR is the UK’s biggest car manufacturer, rolling out 500,000 vehicles each year, 80% of which are exported. This reaction is emulated across the board: Rolls Royce exports about 3,500 cars per year and unveiled an electric driverless concept car in July this year. Bentley is planning to take on Tesla, beginning with the release of a hybrid electric car in 2017.

It may well be that over the next few years, car manufacturers in the UK will be primary innovators in green technologies, encouraged by the government. They are under a great deal of pressure from the EU to reduce emissions. By the end of the decade, JLR is expected to reduce the emissions of its fleet as a whole by 45% compared with levels in 2007. If car manufacturers fail to do this, harsh measures will be taken – €5 per car for the first gram of CO2 per km that exceeds this level, €15 for the second, €25 for the third, and €95 for each subsequent g/km.

It is unknown how this regulation will be altered in a post-Brexit Britain, however all indications are that the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark will aim to make Britain a world-leader in EV research and manufacturing. According to Clark, “Crossovers and SUVs are the biggest growing markets so the company has got to have an electric product there.” Clark has said the automotive sector, particularly electric vehicles, driverless cars and battery storage, will be a “emblematic area of focus” and is going to be “one of the big features of the world and Britain’s industrial policy during the weeks, months and years ahead”.

Other folk

JLR should remain wary, however, of competition from some of the leading companies in the premium EV market. As Clark said, “Tesla is taking a chunk of the premium market where JLR sits. It might be relatively small but that is growing – they need to be ready for that.”

Despite this competition, JLR seems to be taking steps to improve range that Tesla is not, one of the largest problems that people have when considering buying an EV. JLR should act fast, as failure to jump on the bandwagon could result not only in penalisation from the EU; the company would face serious issues down the line as oil prices rise and EV consumption becomes a norm.

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