Jaguar Land Rover Less Certain About Battery Powered SUVs in 2019

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
jaguar land rover less certain about battery powered suvs in 2019

Despite delivering what could be considered a desirable premium EV with the I-Pace, Jaguar Land Rover admits it’s not entirely sold on the idea of electric sport utility vehicles. Due to their size, SUVs and crossovers are inherently heavier than traditional sedans — placing them at odds with the goal of maximizing efficiency.

More mass means diminished range. While this can be offset by a manufacturer installing larger battery packs, that increases costs and ultimately adds more heft to the single heaviest component in an EV. Large electrics bring other issues to the engineering table, too.

“The larger the vehicle the larger the aero challenge. If you’re not careful you end up with such big batteries and you make the vehicles so heavy that as you race down the autobahn the range disappears,” Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of engineering, told media at the company’s revamped engineering and design center in Gaydon, England.

Aerodynamic compromises are as plain as the nose on the I-Pace’s face. While Jaguar’s utility models are often sleeker than the competition, the all-electric I-Pace crossover takes things a step further by offering about the same ground clearance as a Honda Accord. While not hideous (or bad to drive), these compromises informed the shape of the model as much as anything else — which is probably why its silhouette matches that of Tesla’s Model X so closely. Until new advancements in battery technology crop up, this may be the only shape for the job.

Rogers said that delivering JLR’s SUV-related emission goals could require bringing “other technologies into play.” According to Automotive News, he suggests hydrogen technology as a possible alternative.

Unfortunately, the automaker’s leadership has mocked the idea of hydrogen-powered cars for years. Only small pockets of the planet have any fueling infrastructure in place, making global proliferation extremely slow in a best-case scenario. Wolfgang Ziebart, JLR’s head of product development, claimed he had no faith in the technology back in 2016. “The well to wheel relationship from the energy source to the vehicle is a disaster,” he said.

Jaguar Land Rover appointed a new head of hydrogen and fuels cells in March, but the company has not indicated its pursuit of any hydrogen-related research thus far. Rogers remains optimistic, however, and believes hydrogen could be a viable solution “if you’re creating the hydrogen with renewable energy.”

That’s not to suggest JLR is abandoning alternative-energy vehicles, however. Land Rover is currently attempting to add more plug-in hybrids to its fleet — including the new Defender. It also has a standing agreement with BMW to jointly develop electric powertrains.

From Automotive News:

JLR could benefit from its partnership with BMW after agreeing in June to work with its German rival on electric drive units.

BMW is currently collaborating with Toyota on fuel cells and will launch a test fleet of fuel cell versions of the X5 and X7 SUVs in 2021.

However, BMW said it backs batteries over fuel cells for creating zero-emission cars.

“The development we expect for battery density would make BEVs the most-efficient solution,” Klaus Froehlich, BMW Group board member for development, said on the sidelines of the company’s NextGen event in June.

Froelich said a fuel cell powertrain is 10 times more expensive than a full-electric one. The prices will not be comparable until about 2025, he said.

It should also be mentioned that, despite the I-Pace receiving a fair amount of praise for its on-road dynamics and adequate, 234-mile range, the model has not been a sales success. In the United States, Jaguar only moves around 200 units per month. Europe performed better and saw a surge in volume a few months after the 2018 launch, peaking at 2,983 deliveries last December. However, EU sales have declined since then, with July seeing a scant 774 orders.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Oct 02, 2019

    Diesel. That is the answer. The compression-ignition motor will provide you with power, good fuel economy and range. Equipped with modern emissions control systems, those Diesel engines emit less CO2 and particulates than a comparable gasoline engine.

    • See 1 previous
    • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Oct 02, 2019

      @zerofoo The urea injection is actually quite reliable (my wife’s 2018 Skoda Octavia has it) provided you avoid constant short trips in combination with the DPF. The DPF requires extreme heat to regenerate and diesels need time to warm up. My brother owns a taxi business and the urea systems on his predominantly Mercedes-Benz fleet (mostly E-Klassen) are problem-free. They now also come with larger urea tanks ensuring more mileage and less urea fill-ups.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Oct 02, 2019

    Maybe in 5-7 years the EV will actually be relevant after all:

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).