An electric Jaguar E-Type called Concept Zero has been unveiled by Jaguar Land Rover Classic, the company’s fast-growing heritage division. The Concept Zero is identical to the classic original except that its conventional XK engine has been replaced by a 295bhp electric motor and a battery big enough to give a 170-mile “real-world” range. The new model, aptly dubbed Project Marmite in the early months of its 18-month gestation, is the brainchild of JLR Classic chief Tim Hannig.
An avowed old-car lover with his own classic collection, Hannig is quick to acknowledge that an electric E-Type won’t suit everyone and may outrage a few. But he has nevertheless coined the motto ‘We future history’ for JLR’s newest division, believing it must look to a time when big cities have zero-emissions zones, and to a new breed of buyers who desire classic motoring “without the oil leaks”. The Concept Zero’s saving grace from the purist’s point of view is that its electric conversion is designed to be reversible. Traditional mechanical parts will be retained so an owner can return a car to its original specification.
Against the stopwatch, the Concept Zero is also near standard, offering the same 150mph top speed claimed for the petrol original in 1961, plus a very similar 5.5sec 0-60mphtime. Beneath the long bonnet, the Concept Zero’s battery sits in the space formerly occupied by the E-Type’s famously heavy 3.8-litre six-cylinder iron-block engine, with the new drive motor (plus its single-speed reduction gearbox) in the space previously occupied by the four-speed gearbox. A modern Jaguar’s rotary controller dictates forward/reverse movement and no clutch is needed. The result of the work, remarkably, is a 46kg saving.
The electric powertrain connects to the rear wheels via the original tailshaft and differential. The inverter and power electronics sit in the boot. If the Concept Zero takes off, these components will be redesigned to save space (and improve boot room) utilising ‘family’ components from the l-Pace and other forthcoming electric models, much as Jaguar spread the XK powertrain through its range 60 years ago. Having engineered this conversion for the E-Type, Hannig believes he has a set-up suitable for most Jaguar classics.
JLR estimates the cost of a restored electric E-Type at “north of £300,000” but has already had positive responses from potential owners. Hannig will confirm production when a batch of prospective buyers has emerged, after which the car will be finessed to give it more commonality with the I-Pace. It’s an off-the-wall project, Hannig admits, but he also believes the day of the electric E-Type is coming.