Jaguar call it reimagining the future. Cynics, particularly those of a trade union persuasion, would probably call it a way of shedding 2000 jobs. But however you see it, the news is in – Britain’s best-known purveyor of posh cars is working on plans to become a meaner, leaner, all-electric outfit in just five years.
The move is, of course, a way of future-proofing itself neatly ahead of Boris Johnson’s pledge to end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by the end of the decade, but let’s parallel park the politics and focus on what Jaguar and sister company Land Rover are good at – the cars. That means no more fiery V8s crackling on the F-Type’s overrun, and no more torquey turbodiesels heaving Defenders out of sticky situations. By 2025 all Jaguars and Land Rovers will be ones you plug in at night, and perhaps charge up over a cuppa at a motorway services.
Which – planned job cuts aside – isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Jaguar, with the I-Pace, has already proven it can make an excellent electric car, and by paying a few blokes to let them drive through the service bit of the Channel Tunnel, they’ve shown it can go all the way from London to Brussels without having to top up. That’s 229 miles, or a little bit more than the distance from The Champion’s offices in Southport to Edinburgh. Are you really going to do journeys longer than that, without having to stop for a breather and a Starbucks somewhere? Exactly.
The idea of having an XF or even an F-Type with the I-Pace’s electric car trickery shouldn’t really faze car nuts either. If, like me, you’re firmly of the view that Jaguar’s best defined by the values it espoused in its old ads from the Fifties and Sixites – Grace, Space, Pace – then you’ll know the best cars it ever made were all about gliding along B-roads on a wave of near-silent torque, preferably with the clunky business of swapping cogs taken care of by a seamless automatic rather than messing around with a manual. The XJ-S, with its silky, super-quiet V12, was particularly talented at delivering this trio of virtues. But is it so hard to imagine a reborn XJ-S for the Instagram era, with no engine noise at all and no gears on account of it being fed from the mains rather than BP’s pumps?
I also reckon that Jaguar, in much the same way as Ford also has this week, is going to help make electric cars that little bit more attainable by vowing to build them at scale so much earlier than Boris’ 2030 pledge. Sure, for them it’s all about long-term profitability, but the more of them they make, the cheaper the batteries become and the sooner it’ll become a realistic option for those of us who wouldn’t have a zero emissions car, not because of range anxiety or lack of a charging point, but simply because they’re still far too expensive. VW, for instance, made a big deal this week of lowering the entry point of ID3 ownership to £28,670 – but that’s still five grand more than an entry-level Golf.
An all-electric F-Type, if it costs the same as a petrol-powered one, might just get me thinking, though. Now that is a future worth reimagining!
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly