Electric cars may be coming to a road near you sooner than you anticipated. The phenomenon of electric vehicle development is gaining more momentum as we move into a technologically advanced future and major auto industry names are announcing their own plans to form part of this revolution. Some car manufacturers have even set a target date where they plan to release only all-electric vehicle that will include hybrid engines which run on electric power. A massive appeal in the market for electric cars has begun; further compelling car makers to get the ball rolling in terms of production too so that the next coming years see the release of some of the world’s first electric vehicles.
One of the manufacturers leading the pack is Jaguar, with its I-PACE concept that will bring the thrilling idea of electric cars into life. The I-Pace – now in the final stages of testing – will receive its official world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018 and is expected to go on sale in the UK in March. It will then proceed to be available worldwide in the second half of the year, including in South Africa too.
The Jaguar I-PACE features an all-new aluminium platform, an idea the giant British automaker decided to adopt with their new fleet as seen in our New Beginnings: Aluminium Construction In The Next Generation Of Jaguar Models article. Majority of the car’s hardware is taken from the F-Pace SUV and that includes the double-wishbone front suspension and the compact Integral Link rear suspension, which aid in its ride, handling and refinement. Jaguar’s own in-house design team created all the major electrical components such as the twin electric motors and the 90kWh lithium ion batteries that use 36 pouch cells for their energy density and efficiency. They are said to also “sit” low in the car in order to give it a centre of gravity that is 120mm lower than the F-Pace. The I-PACE is 50mm shorter, 90mm lower and 40mm narrower than an F-Pace but has a wheelbase that is 115mm longer, enabling for more room inside.
One of the major characteristics of what’s been informally dubbed as the “electric skateboard” is the intricate design of its dramatic styling. Ian Callum, Director of Design said “The challenge was to design and build an electric vehicle that’s distinctively and unmistakably a Jaguar – a vehicle that will demonstrate that an electric vehicle can be a driver’s car and excite the senses.” The absence of internal combustion engine at the front also gave the design team an exciting opportunity to be more creative and innovative. Callum mentioned “Designers have been looking forward to electric cars for a long time. They give you permission to do things that you can’t do when you have an internal combustion engine.
They also provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts and no interruptions. We started off with a skateboard-like platform that enabled us to bring the cab forward in spite of it being an SUV. The wheelbase was decided by the number and size of the batteries that we needed to fit in between the axles”. What remains the same however, is the bold front grille framed by slim lights as the design team feels it’s still important to establish the front as same as the other Jaguars. Sweeping lines along the side with a tapering waistline adorn the SUV with a coupe profile and lead to a sharply angled rear screen. The LED tail lights are that of the F-Type sports car, XE and XF models design theme. To reduce drag, the I-PACE has door handles that sit flush with the body surface and only slide out when activated.
When it comes to the interior, the I-PACE still has familiar features, only this time there are three screens around the traditional driving position – a 30cm touchscreen on the floating console; a 12cm touchscreen below too; and a 30cm HD screen to display instruments. The rotary controllers also have small screens that are further down the centre control module. Wi-Fi hotspot and being able to use apps from a connected smartphone or tablet via InControl Apps is also another technological characteristic that the vehicle has.
The cabin offers maximum occupant space due to the new packaging of the electric architecture, along with a new minimalist cockpit design. The Slimline seats have the occupants’ hips lower in relation to their heels with the aim of offering a sports car’s sense of connection with the road even when in higher-riding vehicles. Jaguar calls it the “Sports Command” driving position. Passengers have up to 71mm knee room, a bit more than what typical full-sized SUV’s offer. Speaking of space, the front seats also have 8-litre stowage area in between; a 530-litre boot; and an extra 28 litres of stowage under the bonnet.
Jaguar’s first electric car will also deliver 700Nm instant torque, 249kW and 0-100km/h in around just 4 seconds.
CEO of Jaguar Land Rover Global, Dr Ralf Speth, confirmed Jaguar’s commitment in “electrified future” and said “JLR has invested R1.1-billion on updating its retail network and by 2019, all local retailers will be fully prepared to sell and service electric vehicles”.
The company also intends to work with Electric Vehicle Industry Association (EVIA), which represents local vehicle manufacturers that are focusing on electrification. Through this partnership, there will be conversations with government around charging standards and opportunities to develop infrastructure in order to aid the adoption of EVs.