These brand new spy shots showcase what is likely our very first look at the all-new, all-electric Jaguar XJ, due to be revealed by the end of 2020.
It’ll be the second electric Jag, following in the footsteps of the I-Pace SUV. However, while the I-Pace was a brand new badge for the brand, the next XJ is a bold reinvention of one of the marque’s most iconic models. It’ll shape up to be a pure electric alternative to Mercedes S-Class, which will soon gain an electric sibling in the form of the upcoming EQS saloon.
These spy shots are less revealing than the teaser image of the car’s rear end issued by Jaguar last September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In fact, this development mule is not wearing any next-generation XJ bodywork. Instead, the car’s technological underpinnings are hidden away beneath what looks like a heavily modified XF body.
We can see the wheelbase has been stretched, the track is wider and the sills are taller, presumably to house the batteries for the all-electric powertrain. Around the back, the full-width taillight – the only part of the new car we have seen so far – is hidden underneath conventional XF lights.
According to the teaser image it looks as if the new XJ will get a sharper XF-inspired bootlid, with a centrally-mounted badge and Jaguar lettering, too. The image fades to white, disguising the car’s left-hand side and much of the overall shape.
Based on a new platform called MLA, this brand new toolkit for large Jaguars enables battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid drivetrains to be mounted on the same production line. So far, Jaguar has only discussed the next-generation XJ in an all-electric context, but it’s technically possible to produce combustion assisted versions of the car too.
At last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, JLR boss Sir Ralf Speth said: “Based on our rich knowledge and experience gained from the I-Pace, Formula-E and I-Pace eTROPHY, our engineering team is in full swing to deliver the world’s first, full-electric luxury sports saloon. The flagship of Jaguar: the all-new XJ.
“The new, all-electric XJ – extraordinarily remastered for the 21st century – will offer spiritual freedom for our customers,” he said. “Gliding in elegance, new tranquillity and new functionality, and in full consciousness taking care of the environment.”
The British manufacturer has pledged to offer electrified options for all its new models from 2020. The new XJ will be the first electric car produced at the brand’s re-tooled Castle Bromwich plant, being designed and developed by the same team responsible for Jaguar’s all-electric premium SUV, the I-Pace.
Jaguar aims to implement “giga-scale” battery production to support the project, with a new UK-based plant in Hams Hall, North Warwickshire. The facility will be operational in 2020 and aims to produce enough batteries to supply 150,000 electric Jaguar Land Rover models each year.
“If battery production goes out of the UK then automotive production will go out of the UK,” Jaguar Land Rover CEO explained. “The battery is 40 per cent of the cost of an electric vehicle – we want to keep this kind of added value inside the UK.”
Basing production of the all-electric XJ at Castle Bromwich also makes logistical sense to Jaguar Land Rover, offering easy access to the firm’s electric motor manufacturing centre in Wolverhampton. The experience of the plant’s current employees (who specialise in working with the XJ’s all-aluminium construction) will also prove invaluable.
Switching the XJ to a pure-electric powertrain will also allow Jaguar to steal yet another march on its German rivals, following the success of the I-Pace. That car arrived around a year before Mercedes or Audi managed to get the EQC and e-Tron to market – cars that are based on existing platforms instead of the Jaguar’s bespoke electric architecture.
Britain’s biggest car maker has suffered a series of setbacks over the past year and a half, forced to axe jobs and investment to boost profits amid dwindling sales due, in part, to JLR’s reliance on diesel, which has fallen out of favour with consumers.
The facility at Castle Bromwich will be completely overhauled. “I am delighted to announce a major electric vehicle offensive to be built at Castle Bromwich,” Ralf Speth told Auto Express. “This facility will give us the flexibility to develop EVs and hybrid vehicles alongside our diesel cars, giving customers even greater choice.”
Asked about the size of the investment JLR had made at the site Speth added: “If you introduce new architectures it’s not millions but billions – it is spread over a number of years.” The first vehicle to be produced at the site will be the fully-electric, ninth-generation Jaguar XJ.
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