Jaguar’s Electric Shift May Leave U.K. Plant With No Car to Make
(Bloomberg) -- Jaguar Land Rover laid out plans to electrify its lineup under a new chief executive officer, with its namesake luxury-car brand ditching combustion engines just four years from now.
JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd., will invest about 2.5 billion pounds ($3.5 billion) a year into electrification and related technologies, the company said Monday. The Land Rover line will get its first fully electric model in 2024, and by the following year, all Jaguars will be entirely powered by batteries.
“We have the technology, we know how to do it,” CEO Thierry Bollore, the former Renault SA chief who joined the U.K. carmaker in September, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Bollore’s shift is poised to be challenging for the carmaker, which was grappling with Brexit, stricter emissions rules and a dip in exports to China even before the coronavirus pandemic hit. JLR has limited experience making EVs, and while it introduced plug-in hybrid variants of models including the Range Rover Sport and new Defender, its only fully electric vehicle -- the I-Pace SUV -- has struggled to find a mass following.
“Automakers are getting more aggressive with their EV timelines, but some will be harder to meet than others,” said Colin McKerracher, an analyst with BloombergNEF. “Battery prices still need to fall further for mass-market brands to make the jump, but premium brands can get there sooner due to higher average purchase prices.”
Phasing out combustion-engine models could spell trouble for Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant in England, which employs almost 2,000 people making Jaguar XE and XF sedans as well as the F-Type sports car.
The company is exploring ways to “repurpose” the site after the models are phased out and plans to “substantially reduce and rationalize” its non-manufacturing infrastructure in the U.K.
JLR may move activities including its high-end special-vehicle operations to Castle Bromwich, Bollore said in the interview. The company will also consider buying EV batteries produced in the U.K. to meet local-content rules, he said.
The U.K. labor union Unite said it welcomes JLR’s strategy revamp but is supporting the company only if it sticks to pledges that it won’t shutter plants or fire workers.
JLR’s push away from the internal combustion engine is the latest seismic automotive shift driven by stricter emissions rules. Carmakers from German giant Volkswagen AG to Jaguar’s smaller rival Lotus Cars have announced plans to electrify their offerings as governments around the world increase aid for battery-powered vehicles and put in place rules restricting gasoline cars.
JLR will introduce six fully electric Land Rover variants in the next five years. By 2030, it expects all of its Jaguar models and 60% of Land Rovers sold to be zero-emissions vehicles.
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