Why JLR Changed It’s Tune on EVs

Why JLR Changed It's Tune on EVs

Why JLR Changed It’s Tune on EVs! Recently, a lot of excitement around JLR’s new electric vehicle, the I-Pace, has grown; however, last year, Jaguar-Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth seemed to allude that the British automaker would be one of the last premium brands to add a full-electric car. Speaking with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri and Automotive News Print Editor Rick Johnson, Speth explains why JLR has changed their tune. Read the full interview below:

When we spoke a little more than a year ago you had a very negative opinion of electric vehicles. Now Jaguar plans to debut an EV. What changed?

We try not to talk about things just for the sake of talking. We want to have something to show. Now is the right time to show our idea. We have created the I-Pace from a clean sheet of paper, with a different package and a different design.

What percentage of JLR’s global sales will be battery-powered and plug in vehicles by 2025?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball. A lot depends on economic and political influences as well as the state of the charging infrastructure. But, I assume that a high percentage of vehicles in the world’s biggest markets will be battery-electric vehicles by then.

Many of your German rivals say EVs will account for 15 percent to 25 percent of their sales by 2025. Does JLR have a similar expectation?

Maybe they have brighter teams who know everything better about the future. I can’t predict the future so I can’t say whether things will go in that direction.

Will Jaguar have a higher EV penetration than Land Rover or vice versa?

No. Land Rover is also well prepared to make battery-electric vehicles. There are some disadvantages for Land Rover, such as higher starting weight of SUVs, but on the other hand the vehicles are taller, which is an advantage when it comes to finding space to put batteries.

You will buy cells from suppliers and assemble your battery packs. What about your electric motors?

At the moment, we buy the electric motors, but we have to think what we will do in the future. When you reach a certain volume, it makes sense to build an internal combustion engine in-house, but for an electric motor it’s not as clear at what volume it makes sense. Also, the electric motor is not that complex so from a production standpoint it’s not a challenge to make.

To what extent is your move into EVs driven by regulations and to what extent is it driven by consumer demand?

It’s a move that is driven primarily by the customer. Customers see this type of vehicle as cool and sexy, especially younger customers who, unlike me, are not as interested in the sound of the engine and things like that. They have different interests because they have not grown up with this kind of experience. They are far more open to accept new propulsion systems.

Why has there been such a huge increase in interest around EVs when it seemed like they were dead 18 months ago? Is some of this backlash against Volkswagen Group’s emissions-cheating scandal?

Dieselgate helped a little bit, but I also have seen a sudden change in public acceptance. People are much more open to this change, therefore, the take rate will increase. The customer will decide what percentage of the vehicles in a carmaker’s portfolio will be EVs. I am also sure that customer demand will increase as the recharging infrastructure develops. If the infrastructure can keep pace with customer demand, we will quickly have a high percentage of battery-electric vehicles on the road.

Magna Steyr will build the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV in Austria. Will the second vehicle that Magna builds for JLR be a Land Rover EV?

We are just starting with the first vehicle so I don’t want to speculate on the second one. But, we will have a second vehicle down there because it doesn’t make sense to have just one.

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