Jaguar will vault into central Tesla territory with the all-new battery-electric I-Pace, easily the most radical car in its 81-year history. The new car, unveiled this week as a concept at the Los Angeles motor show, changes practically every traditional Jaguar ingredient and is due on the road in about 18 months’time. It marks the start of a bold new chapter in the engineering and design history of Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar’s brief for its long-anticipated first electric vehicle was to “create a performance SUV that is spacious, sporty and usable”, but the final design isn’t merely an electric version of the successful F-Pace SUV.
Instead, the I-Pace exploits the packaging advantages of an electric powertrain to marry a sleek four-door bodystyle with generous cabin space, four-wheel drive capability and performance on a par with a rear-wheel-drive Jaguar F-Type R. The definitive production version of the l-Pace will be revealed at the end of next year, with most of the concept’s key features likely to be carried over.
The car will go on sale in 2018 at a price expected to be about 10-15% above that of an F-Pace of similar specification, making for an entry-level model costing £40,000-£50,000 likely. The l-Pace will take on Tesla’s Model X, the Audi e-tron and a production version of the Mercedes Generation EO concept shown at the Paris motor show in September.
NEW EV ARCHITECTURE – The l-Pace Concept uses a new, bespoke, battery electric vehicle architecture designed in-house. Jaguar said the electric architecture, informally referred to as the ‘electric skateboard’, is production ready. As with other Jaguars, the l-Pace’s architecture is aluminium-intensive. The housing of the battery pack is made from the material and forms an integral part of the car’s body structure. The I-Pace Concept’s drive is provided by a pair of synchronous permanent magnet electric motors, one integrated into each axle and paired with a single-speed epicyclic transmission.
The powertrain provides four-wheel drive, immediate response from a standstill and rapid torque distribution between the two axles. Each motor produces the equivalent of 197bhp, meaning the l-Pace Concept has 395bhp and 516ib ft on tap. Jaguar’s claimed 0-60m ph time for the car is 4.0sec. “Electric motors provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts and no interruptions,” said Ian Hoban, JLR vehicle line director. “Their superior torque delivery compared to internal combustion engines transforms the driving experience.”
The car’s maximum range on a fully charged battery is about 310 miles, as measured on the New European Driving Cycle. A 50kW direct current (DC) charging point – currently the most common type of public rapid charging system in the UK- can replenish the battery to 80% in 90 minutes and to 100% in just over two hours. Jaguar has future-proofed the electrical architecture to accept higher-capacity charging than 50kW DC when such charging points become commonplace. The charging socket is situated in the car’s front wing.
Jaguar’s engineers designed and developed the motors in-house to achieve the compactness, efficiency and power density they desired. The motors have an outer diameter of 234mm, are 500mm long and weigh about 38kg. Permanent magnet motors were chosen in preference to the induction motors used by the likes of Tesla because the efficiency is fractionally better and the weight is lower. Power is stored in a 90kWh lithium ion battery pack.
The battery uses 36 pouch cells selected for their energy density and thermal performance. They operate at a lower heat, so they can run at a high performance for longer than cylindrical cells. Jaguar said pouch cells offer excellent future development potential, especially in terms of energy density. This will enable greater range for a given size of battery, or deliver similar range to today but from a smaller, lighter pack. The pack is liquid-cooled using a dedicated two-mode cooling circuit.
In moderate ambient temperatures, the battery improves efficiency by relying only on a radiator to remove the heat generated by the cells. At higher temperatures, a chiller linked to the vehicle’s main air conditioning system provides greater cooling capacity to keep the battery in optimum condition.
DRIVING DYNAMICS – Jaguar set out to ensure the concept version of the I-Pace can top its class in terms of ride, handling and refinement. The car uses the same double wishbone front suspension and integral link rear suspension that has already been proven in the F-Pace. Siting the battery pack low between the axles helps to lower the centre of gravity and reduce yaw inertia, and spreading the weight of the electric motors on to each axle has helped to enable a front-to-rear weight distribution of almost 50/50.
The concept rides on 23in alloy wheels and bespoke 265/35 R23 tyres and uses electromechanical steering. “It’s a true Jaguar,” said Mike Cross, JLR chief engineer of vehicle integrity. “This will be the first electric vehicle developed for enthusiasts who love driving.” The 1-Pace Concept’s four-wheel drive system is augmented by Jaguar’s familiar traction technologies, including All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) and Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR). The car will also have adjustable levels of regenerative braking force, making it possible to drive the 1-Pace as a ‘one-pedal’ car in some conditions.
CAB-FORWARD DESIGN – Not having to accommodate an internal combustion engine or conventional transmission allowed Jaguar’s designers and engineers to rethink the vehicle’s overall proportions. Although an SUV design wasn’t a prerequisite at the very start of the electric vehicle project, it was a logical choice: the F-Pace is now the company’s best-selling model and Jaguar’s electric car needs to appeal particularly to the US market, where emissions regulations are tightening.
Even so, the 1-Pace is an unconventional SUV, taking some of its styling cues from the stillborn hybrid C-X75 supercar. A cab-forward design, long wheelbase and short overhangs combine to maximise interior space for occupants, improve visibility and enhance driving dynamics. At 4680mm long, 1890mm wide and 1560mm tall, the I-Pace Concept is smaller in each dimension than the F-Pace, in particular its height. However, the most significant difference is in the wheelbase: Jaguar has pushed the electric car’s out to 2990mm, compared with the F-Pace’s 2874mm.
Indeed, the l-Pace’s wheelbase is30mm longer than the XF’s, too. To reduce drag, the door handles sit flush with the body surface and slide out when activated, and side skirts channel air more efficiently around the wheels. A low-set bonnet features a grille that bends back to channel air through a scoop similar to that of the C-X75, helping to reduce drag further. The drag coefficient is 0.29. By comparison, Tesla claims its Model X is the slipperiest SUV, with a Cd of 0.24.
At the rear of the I-Pace Concept’s roof, a slender fixed spoiler reduces lift at higher speeds without generating drag. The dramatically sloping rear window has a hydrophobic glass coating that sheds water, negating the need for a rear windscreen wiper. The squared-off rear end and flared haunches accentuate the short rear overhang but also provide an aerodynamic benefit by encouraging air to cling to the vehicle for longer, stabilising airflow at speed.