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Jaguar Land Rover to make only electric or hybrid cars from 2020

Jaguar Land Rover has become the latest large carmaker to say it will stop launching new models solely powered by internal combustion engines, two months after Volvo pledged to do so.

The UK-based manufacturer promised that all new models from 2020 will be fully electric or hybrid, a year later than Volvo’s target, but a big step beyond its unveiling last November of a single electric concept car.

The plan comes after the Scottish government said it would phase out the need for petrol and diesel cars by 2032, eight years earlier than the UK and French targets of banning sales of new cars with internal combustion engines.

Dr Ralf Speth, JLR’s chief executive, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice.”

But Speth also warned of the unintended consequences of the electrification of cars and arrival of autonomous vehicles. The UK’s 250,000-plus lorry drivers are at risk from driverless technology, with knock-on effects for the UK’s social fabric, he said.

“In the UK, there are currently more than a quarter of a million lorry drivers. What happens to our society if these lose their jobs? Who pays for them? What happens to the social fabric of the country?”

Furthermore, electric cars’ impact on petrol and diesel demand could hurt oil-producing nations, Speth said. “Many could be forced to impose substantial spending cuts within the next five years, straining living standards and so creating unrest in areas already suffering from instability,” he added.

Protecting privacy in an era of self-driving cars would also be vital, he said. “The very technology that could liberate us, autonomous vehicles, could become a method of insecurity and enslavement … Big freedoms could end up creating the big brother state.”

While Speth has said he sees battery-powered cars as a way to grow its global workforce of 40,000, the high emissions of the carmaker’s petrol and diesel vehicles mean it has to go electric to meet stringent new European carbon targets.

Average CO2 emissions from JLR cars were 164g (5.8oz) per kilometre in 2015, well above the UK average of 121.4g. More importantly, they are a long way from the 95g target a manufacturer must hit by 2021.

Prof David Bailey, an automotive expert at Aston University, said the company had been slow to wake up to electric vehicles.

“Jaguar are playing catchup – Tesla has stolen a chunk of their lunch, BMW are way ahead as well,” he said.

“The premium end of things is moving more quickly [towards electrification] in part because electric car costs are higher at the moment because of battery costs, so they can absorb that. It’s also because they are heavily dependent on diesel and the market is moving away from diesel.”

JLR, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Tata, makes no electric cars but plans to begin building production versions of its battery-powered SUV next year.

The I-Pace will have a range of 310 miles (500km), putting it on a par with competition from US-based Tesla but ahead of cheaper options such as the new Nissan Leaf, unveiled on Wednesday.

JLR has indicated that it would like to build an electric car plant in the UK, similar to Nissan’s Sunderland facility, where the Leaf is built, but it has yet to make a concrete commitment. The Leaf is the UK’s bestselling electric model, and this week Nissan revealed its new design and an extended, 235-mile range.

Such a move would be a significant boost to the British car industry and follows BMW, which in July pledged to build its electric Mini in Oxford. Jaguar sold more than 583,000 cars in 136 countries last year.

Industry watchers had spotted earlier this year that JLR had trademarked a series of car names that suggested an electric future, although the company will continue to build existing petrol and diesel models beyond 2020.

Speth told an audience in London that JLR could not pursue its electric ambitions alone, questioning whether the government was doing enough on infrastructure. “Where is the network of charging points that [electric cars] will require to function? Indeed, where is the power grid that will allow us to build them?” he said.

Ministers on Thursday announced the launch of a new industry-and-government-backed brand to develop driverless vehicles in the UK. The Meridian hub will coordinate research and development into the technology, paid for by carmakers and £100m in public funding.

BMW, which has sold 8,000 electric cars in the UK, said on Thursday that it plans to have 25 electrified vehicles on sale by 2025, a dozen of which would be fully electric. The German carmaker boasted that the models would have a range of up to 435 miles, more than double the range of most current electric vehicles.

Governments keen to tackle air pollution and cut carbon emissions are driving electric car production, alongside falling battery prices.

However, a report found that on average, 1.7% of carmakers’ sales were electric vehicles, compared with their own target of 3.6%.
The state of electric cars
How many electric cars are there?

While electric cars make up less than 1% of new car sales worldwide, there are now more than 2m on the road. Most of them – 90% – are sold in China, the US and the EU, although some countries are racing ahead, such as Norway, where nearly a third of new cars sold are electric. The key thing is the rate of growth. In the UK, sales of fully electric cars are up 51% this year to date, compared with registrations in 2016.

What is driving their growing popularity?
Government policy, such as European targets for new cars’ carbon emissions and Chinese subsidies for electric cars, as leaders attempt to solve urban air quality problems and tackle climate change. In November, the EU will discuss tough new carbon targets for 2025, with some campaigners calling for manufacturers to be set a target on the proportion of battery-powered cars they sell.

The other big reason is that the cost of car batteries has fallen fast. Costs dropped from $1,000 (£763) per kilowatt-hour of capacity in 2010 to around $300 last year, with some companies edging towards $150, according to Dutch bank ING. Finally, there is now real competition between carmakers trying to outdo one another – expect more rhetoric and pledges at the Frankfurt motor show next week.

What’s the state of the technology?
“The technology is ready. The ranges are getting longer and new models are being put on the road,” said Julia Hildermeier of campaigners Transport & Environment. The group counted 20 fully electric models on sale in Europe last year, rising to 48 if plug-in hybrids are included. However, there were more than 400 petrol and diesel models. The new generation of electric cars can also go further between charges – around 200 miles, or more than 300 in the case of premium models. Next up are lorries and freight. Later this month, the US-based Tesla is reportedly planning to announce an electric truck with a range of up to 300 miles.

via theguardian
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