The Jaguar I-Pace – Jaguar’s electric Crossover/SUV – is not “a Tesla Fighter, it’s a Tesla beater” says the Jaguar man who conceived the electric I-Pace.
But by the time the I-Pace turned up at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring, those odd looks had turned in to an appreciation of a new design direction made possible by the absence of the need to accommodate a big ICE lump at the front.
The I-Pace was conceived by Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart, the then newly appointed Engineering Director at Jaguar Land Rover, at a dinner with Ralph Speth (JLR CEO) a few months after his appointment in 2013, and it’s a credit to both that the I-Pace was given the go-ahead in such a radical way.
Instead of making an existing model in to an EV – something we’ve always considered the best way to get buyer acceptance – Ziebart and Speth decided the only way to go was to approach the task without using car industry standard processes.
Talking to Bertel Schmidt, Ziebart said he initially picked a small team of 30 people and housed them at Warwick University – close, but not too close, to JLR – and set about developing an entirely new type of car.
The design of the car was the work of Ian Callum, and the freedom allowed him to create the i-Pace with entirely new dimensions, yet still shouting Jaguar from every pore.
The battery cells came from LG – although the pack is a JLR development, as is the magic black box of battery management – and sits on the floor, perfect for safety and a low centre of gravity.
Despite a fall in battery prices, it seems 40 per cent of the I-Pace’s cost lies here, and JLR needed to factor in to their plans the expected ongoing improvement in battery technology to reach their goal of a 300 mile range from the 90kWh pack. And it seemed the industry has kept up the pace well enough for Jaguar’s i-Pace claims to now be a reality.
Even the electric motors – one on each axle – were developed in-house by JLR engineer Dr. Alex Michaelides and are the lightest, most compact motors imaginable, and the platform is entirely new too.
Add all that together and you really do have a completely new type of car in the I-Pace from Jaguar; a car conceived for purpose from day one, not a car modified to address market needs.
All of which makes Ziebart’s declaration that the Jaguar i-Pace “is not a Tesla fighter. It is a Tesla beater” entirely credible.