Merging the XE and XF and migrating all mainstream models to a single flexible platform are among plans under discussion.
2 Cars in 1 – Shock new Jaguar – radical saloon to reinvent both the XE and XF. Why Jag saloons won’t die yet?
WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU CROSS AN XE WITH AN XF? ONE OF THESE
Jaguar Land Rover bosses are facing a decision on how to replace the Jaguar XE and XF models, which are currently selling in very small numbers and were outsold by the electric I-Pace in November last year.
Drive-My understands the company is focusing on how it should regroup and steady itself after a tumultuous 2018, with a review of Jaguar’s future product plans at the top of the list. While facelift versions of the cars are just months from the showroom, it is believed that company planners are now working on a strategy for the launch of new replacements for early 2023.
Sources say that JLR is starting with a blank sheet of paper for the project. The options include the XE and XF being merged into a single model, and any new vehicle could be either an electric model or a plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, the all-new XJ due next year is expected to be fully electric, which Jaguar hopes will appeal for luxury chauffeur-driven motoring in China and beyond.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth recently told the press that low sales of today’s XE, XF and XJ models would not force the company to leave the saloon market because ‘low-profile’ vehicles will be needed to adhere to the planned EU CO2 regulations in 2030 and beyond.
The European Commission recently announced that average CO2 emissions of new cars registered in the EU will have to be 15% lower in 2025 and 37.5% lower in 2030, compared with the emission limits valid in 2021, showing the challenge ahead for a firm selling big and heavy SUVs.
The timeline also highlights a key difficulty facing JLR: would a 2023 plug-in hybrid XE/XF and the XJ be enough to help meet the 2025 targets?
Another dilemma, Drive-My understands, is the likely future take-up rate for premium EV models, which remain a minority choice and dependent on government incentives. Last year, JLR’s executive director of corporate and strategy, Hanno Kirner, held a private seminar explaining the company’s future electrification strategy.
He revealed the new MLA aluminium platform, which can be used to build international combustion-engined, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles. By 2025, all mainstream JLR products will be based on MLA architecture.
Kirner’s presentation also highlighted a further dilemma faced by JLR around the state of EV infrastructure. He pointed out a survey that showed 43% of potential buyers expect EVs to be as easy to recharge as it is to fill up a fossil-fuel car and noted that it takes two minutes to refuel a Discovery with a 18.5-gallon tank, resulting in a “500-plus mile range”.
JLR expects the big global cities to lead the way in EV adoption, but that customer take-up could differ greatly between Europe, the US and Asia, making it difficult to plan for global vehicles that are still five years from the showroom.
Kirner also revealed that JLR is planning to launch a number of mid-height cars in the future (possibly the rumoured Road Rover series) but also more vehicles with a small frontal area, as aerodynamic efficiency for range becomes more crucial. The presentation hinted at a platform for the future I-Pace that will be shared with a sports model, claiming an eventual replacement for the F-Type and possibly badged I-Type.
Although big decisions on the future of Jaguar will be made in 2019, there is a great deal of more pressing work facing JLR management. As well as negotiating with employees and unions on the planned 4500 redundancies, JLR bosses have to deal more immediately with the huge collapse in sales in China, alongside the underperformance of crucial models including all three Jaguar saloons, the F-Pace SUV and the Land Rover Discovery and Discovery Sport.
However, there is much for Speth and his team to be enthusiastic about this year. As well as the new Evoque’s arrival, there will be facelifted versions of the XE and XF and a major re-engineering of the Discovery Sport, which has been hit particularly hard by declining sales. The new Defender will also be unveiled.
In light of continually falling diesel sales, a potential fillip for JLR is that the two Jaguar saloons and the two smallest Land Rovers will be offered with various configurations of the firm’s long-awaited hybrid drivetrain in 2019. There will be two versions for the Evoque (which is based on a different platform to the aluminium Jaguar saloons).
A mild hybrid with a 48V belt-drive electric motor assisting the engine will be joined by a plug-in hybrid with a three-cylinder engine, a battery pack under the floor and an electric motor driving the rear axle. The latter gives the potential for EV-only town driving and should boost off-road ability. The mild-hybrid front-drive petrol Evoque is expected to offer 50mpg on the new WLTP test and the diesel version slightly better. JLR says the plug-in will offer a CO2 rating of well below 140g/km.
JLR has already announced that the battery packs for the new models will be assembled in Hams Hall, outside Birmingham. The electric drive units will be made at Jaguar’s Wolverhampton engine plant. This technology will be mirrored on the facelifted Discovery Sport and should give the model and the Evoque a significant boost on the market. Between January and November 2018, sales of the Evoque fell by 33%. The Discovery Sport was down by 23%.
So while it is hoped that Evoque sales will return to full strength and the Discovery Sport will start to recover from its own slump towards the end of 2019, Land Rover’s biggest issue is the dwindling sales of the Discovery flagship.
Indeed, between August and November 2018, sales of the seven-seater fell by 30%. In the first 11 months of the year, Land Rover sold 39,844 Discoverys. That was well behind the Range Rover Sport (70,243), Velar (61,036) and Range Rover flagship (48,811).
There may have been a backlash against production of the model being moved to a new factory in Slovakia, but the vehicle’s styling has also consistently divided opinion. The upshot is that not only will Land Rover get a huge image boost when the new Defender appears (albeit at a premium price and probably sourced from Slovakia), two of its three biggest showroom problems could be resolved in 12 months’ time.
Jaguar also has potential solutions to its 2018 woes in the form of the facelifted Jaguar XE and XF models, which will be offered with hybrid drivetrains. At least one of the versions uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. Petrol mild-hybrid drivetrains will certainly make the XE and XF ranges more attractive to European buyers. Longer term, though, falling F-Pace sales are concerning. In the four months to November 2018, they fell 31% year on year.
The presentation hinted at a platform for the future I-Pace that will be shared with a sports model.
WHY JLR ISN’T ALL- IN ON ELECTRIC
JLR’s strategists expressed caution over the take-up of EVs in a presentation with banking analysts last year. The firm’s own estimate was for 20% of new cars being electric by 2025. BMW and Volkswagen hedged their bets at 15-25%. Bloomberg and Bank of America were at 26% and 24%. Analysts at Bernstein offered a ‘rapid adoption’ estimate of 57% by 2030 and low adoption rate of just 19% by the end of the next decade.
In short, nobody knows. It won’t have steadied the nerves of any automotive planners to see that Tesla has decided to cut more than 3000 jobs from its 45,000-strong workforce, admitting its cars were still too expensive for the mainstream and profits too low.
Tesla boss Elon Musk said the only answer for the company was a global roll-out of the Model 3, higher volumes and lower showroom prices.
Which is a good summary of where the ‘EV revolution’ stands today. Will EVs remain expensive niche cars for high-earners with an environmental mindset? Or will, for example, VW’s wildly ambitious ID family really take EVs mainstream?
Given the uncertainty, it’s no surprise both BMW and Jaguar have announced new-generation architectures that can be built as ICEs, plug-in hybrids and EVs.
Despite the huge media coverage, high market valuation of Tesla and government expectations, only when millions of drivers start signing cheques will we know if EVs are the way forward.
Options for JLR planners include the XE and XF being merged into a single model.
New XE/XF model could emerge as an EV or a plug-in hybrid XE’s future beyond this year’s major facelift is being deliberated.
I-Paces outsold XFs in November, but Jag will stick with saloons.
Discovery sales fell by 30% between August and November 2018
UNDER THE SKIN OF 2020 PLUG-IN HYBRID EVOQUE
Three-cylinder petrol engine
Lighter 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit makes 197bhp and 206lb ft alone.
Belt-integrated starter generator
Starts engine smoothly and supplies high-voltage power
Converts high-voltage power for 12V system.
Rear-mounted motor and gearbox produce 107bhp and 192lb ft
Transforms current from AC to DC
11.3kWh lithium ion battery mounted under the rear floor
JLR’S PLATFORM ROADMAP
This roadmap, based on an official document, shows how JLR’s range will evolve. The complex array of platforms underpinning today’s line-up will be replaced by one flexible architecture covering ‘low’ (saloons and small crossovers), ‘mid’ (mid-sized SUVs and larger saloons) and ‘high’ (large 4x4s and SUVs) bodied vehicles. All could potentially be offered with combustion-engined, plug-in hybrid or EV variants. The plan suggests the I-Pace will share a separate platform with a future sports car.