Jaguar aims to shelve ‘boring’ electric image with I-Pace 0

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Jaguar Land Rover is looking to banish the “boring” label stuck on electric cars by creating a race series using its battery-powered I-Pace.

The car maker announced in early September that all new vehicles it produced from 2020 onwards would have an electric option. Ralf Speth, the firm’s CEO, said that the ramifications of moving away from oil as the automotive industry’s main fuel source could cause serious geopolitical shifts.

With the aim of promoting electric car technology, Speth revealed plans for a single-make race series featuring the I-Pace, Jaguar Land Rover’s first electric car, which will support the Formula E championship – the electric version of Formula 1.

“Future mobility will not be boring,” said Mr Speth. “The technology we are developing on the track allows us to deliver thrilling electric vehicles to our customers.”

Expected to run alongside the 2018 Formula E Race series, details of the eTrophy series were revealed by the firm’s CEO as he delivered an update on JLR’s performance at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show.

2017 has been a far better year for JLR, sales were up by 8 per cent on the same time last year with 401,565 vehicles sold. The F-Pace, Jaguar’s first SUV heading the charge as demand doubled.

Sales are expected to be further boosted when those attributed to the E-Pace (a smaller version of the F-Pace, launched by the company in July) are added. A few industry insiders are predicting that Jaguar’s SUVs will eventually be the brand’s more dominant sellers, overtaking the company’s more traditional saloon cars.

JLR’s sales in China showed significant recovery from the same period in 2016, up by more than a quarter. North America saw an increase of 13 per cent. Europe and the UK also saw growth, albeit on a smaller scale with a 4 per cent rise.

Mr Speth spoke of the challenges presented by the gradual electrification of the automotive industry at an event promoting electric and autonomous vehicle technology last week.

Predicting it will cause enormous social change, the JLR boss raised questions about the future of the UK’s 250,000 lorry drivers, saying they could find themselves out of a job with the introduction of self-driving trucks.

“These are hardworking people in well-paid jobs,” Mr Speth said. “What happens to society if they lose their jobs? Who pays for them? What happens to the ­social fabric because of the mobility revolution?”

Electric cars charged with power generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar or nuclear could also “change the geopolitical map”, he said and cited predictions about the “end of big oil”.

He said some forecasts suggests widespread adoption of electric cars could result in the price of a barrel of oil dropping to just $25, a level he warned would “put the national budget of oil-producing nations under considerable threat, straining social barriers”.

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