Jaguar Land Rover Talks EVs, Hybrids

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Luxury car buyers have shown an appetite for electric and hybrid vehicles like the Tesla Model S and BMW i3, leaving more conventional luxury car makers to play catch up. Though the Jaguar Land Rover lineup isn’t totally lacking in hybrid vehicles, there’s plenty of room for expansion, and expansion is coming.

In this interview with Automotive News, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of product development Wolfgang Ziebart doesn’t delve into details. Instead he paints a broad picture of where hybrid and electric cars are right now, and which markets make the most sense for luxury car markets.

One of those markets is for short range EVs centered around urban living. Cars like the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 are filling this niche nicely, but JLR doesn’t have a lot of interest in hopping in this market. Range Rover especially has larger-than-average vehicle size, which sells well in markets like the US and China, but has a more limited appeal in Europe (though that hasn’t stopped the Tesla Model S from becoming the top selling vehicle in Norway). The 44 MPG Range Rover Hybrids have been built to appeal precisely to this market.

There is a second market for EVs though, as Wolfgang puts it, telling AN that EVs make sense “…as a second or third car for a wealthy family. This is more a market for us. Here we see some Range Rover owners or owners of high-end Jaguars as potentially being attracted to electric vehicles.”

So what exactly does that mean? To me, it sounds like we’re going to see more hybrid Range Rovers, and MAYBE, just maybe, an all-electric Jaguar sports car. Ten years ago such a notion would have seemed like a flight of fancy, but these days its more like a do-or-die scenario. Despite the protestations of car executives, consumers at every income level are tuning into electric cars, and now companies have to come up with products to appease their green sensibilities.

That’s not to say JLR has been caught completely flat-footed. There’s already a few working Land Rover Defender EVs undergoing testing in England, and the new Jaguar line of modular Ingenium motors have been designed to easily adapt to hybrid drivetrains. But compared to BMW and Tesla, JLR is more than a few steps behind the curve.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.