This is the Jaguar I-Pace EV concept, which the automaker unveiled ahead of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. It previews a fully electrified production vehicle set to go on sale in 2018.
This is the future of Jaguar — or at least one zero-emission, high-performance, eerily quiet branch of it.
For a concept car, the I-Pace doesn’t make a lot of wild promises; everything here seems more or less plausible and buildable. Instead of far-out autonomous features, it pledges a 220-mile useable range. It doesn’t predict the impending demise of internal combustion-powered Jaguars, but it might just bring a fresh crop of eco-conscious tech-oriented buyers into the brand.
And it doesn’t let performance fall by the wayside, despite the conspicuous lack of a supercharged V8 up front or noisy tailpipes out back. 0-60 should take around four seconds — and that’s before the inevitable (we suspect) SVR version emerges.
Suddenly, Jag’s involvement in Formula E makes a lot more sense, as does the nomenclature: The concept, and the production car it closely previews, follows Jaguar’s naming its open-wheel racer the I-Type.
The I-Pace isn’t just an electrified version of something the company already builds. What it actually is is a bit harder to pin down. Not quite a crossover, not quite a sedan, it gets the characteristically aggressive Jaguar haunches. Yet the front end is very short — the windshield sweeps up from beneath the hood, transitions into a panoramic sunroof and winds up in a hatchback. We thought we were crazy for seeing a few of the lines from the stunning C-X75 in the thing, but then Ian Callum appeared and confirmed that yes, some parts of the unbuilt hybrid supercar are echoed in the design of the I-Pace.
Well, a virtual Ian Callum did, because Jaguar decided unveil the I-Pace in immersive virtual reality. The headsets we all wore were extremely goofy; surprisingly, the presentation itself was not. And when we shed the goggles and zapped back to reality, the real concept (and the real Ian Callum!) had materialized in the room. Magic!
Please, don’t park like this.
Visually, the I-Pace fits right in with the rest of the Jaguar stable; more or less every cue from Callum-era Jag is there, somewhere, from the familiar grille to the equally familiar taillights. Like the C-X75, it uses a cab-forward design — hence the similar feel — which pushes the visual mass and cabin volume as far toward the front as possible. This is obviously easier to manage when there’s no big, hot engine up there to contend with.
Compared to what’s underneath, the airy cabin is fairly conventional, if full of beautifully designed and crafted details; we’d guess it provides a glimpse of what to expect from Jaguars both electric and fuel-burning in the coming years. A large touchscreen dominates the center of the console; a smaller touchscreen below controls some infotainment and climate functions, with physical rotary knobs doing the rest. The center console floats. The chairs float. In the future, everything must float.
It’s roomy inside the I-Pace. We hope the floating chairs and console make it to production.
The lack of an internal combustion engine and transmission tunnel explains the extra room inside. Despite an overall length comfortably under 16 feet (the concept is 184.25 inches long, to be precise), it’s said to have the the interior passenger volume and front and rear legroom of a vehicle a class up — think along the lines of a large sedan. There’s substantially less luggage space here than in the F-Pace, even if you count the front trunk, but substantially more than in an XJL.
While still in the virtual world, we took a good 360-degree virtual gander at the car’s underpinnings. Though the safest route would have been to electrify something in the company’s current lineup — the F-Pace would have been the most obvious choice — Jag went all-in with a clean-sheet design. Strip away the bodywork and cabin and you’ll find a skateboard-like chassis beneath it all.
Strip away the I-Pace concept’s body, and this is what you’ll find: A massive battery pack with two electric motors at the ends.
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The liquid-cooled lithium ion battery pack spans the entire wheelbase. It’s made up of so-called pouch battery cells which, as the name suggests, are built in pouch-like enclosures. These are then connected to form the larger pack. They’re the same style of battery used in Formula E, and also on the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt, but they’re not deployed across the board (notably, Tesla uses cylindrical cells that superficially resemble your typical double A).
You’ll be able to fully charge a drained I-Pace in two hours using a 50 kW DC fast charger; an 80-percent charge takes 90 minutes (Tesla’s superchargers can top off its cars substantially faster, for what that’s worth). Fully charged, the 90 kWh battery will get you 220 miles.
At each corner of the battery pack is a honking concept-car spec 23-inch wheel wrapped in an equally outrageous rubber band of a tire. Behind that sits a fairly conventional double wishbone suspension that draws heavily from the sporty F-Pace — Jaguar says it’s aiming for a nimble, performance-oriented ride.
A cutaway view of the I-Pace concept.
Between that suspension sits a matched set of permanent magnet motors; combined, they provide 400 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, the vehicle’s driveshafts pass right through the center of each motor; this compact concentric design, which we can’t say we’ve seen on any other production EV to date, makes packaging even more flexible.
And as far as vehicle platforms go, the I-Pace’s skateboard is about as flexible as it gets; we could see Jaguar dropping everything from a sedan to a more conventionally proportioned crossover/SUV on these underpinnings. Powertrain variants — perhaps with larger batteries, or only one motor, are conceivable as well, but we couldn’t get any confirmation of what’s to come beyond this all-wheel drive configuration.
Jaguar says the production version of the I-Pace will emerge in late 2017, and it will go on sale in the second half of 2018. You can count on more technical details, as well as pricing, after the production car debuts — but barring a major change of course, it should look a lot like what you’re seeing here.