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JLR Says All Models Electric by 2020

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Posted On: Sep 20, 2017 By: Dave Bobeck Category: Land Rover News

Some interesting tidbits from the world of Land Rover this month. JLR CEO, Ralf Speth, announced a few weeks ago that by 2020, all JLR offerings will be available with either a fully electric or hybrid drive. It isn’t exactly clear what that means. Will non-electric versions still be offered? By my read, they will be. The web forums and facebook groups are all abuzz with the thought that {{shudder}} such a mandate would most likely include the new, yet to be revealed, Defender.

Electric Defender

Regardless of what it means precisely, the announcement comes as no surprise - JLR is running neck-to-neck with Nissan for top marks in domestic UK car production. Nissan’s Leaf is one of the first modern, mass-produced, fully electric models available to consumers, and JLR has not only been working on their own fully electric model for some time, they have also launched a public initiative to bring electric vehicle production to their home in Warwickshire. The campaign has received a large pledge of funds and infrastructure improvements from government officials, and the hope is that the result will be a doubling of JLR’s output as well as the creation of 10,000 new jobs in the UK.

Given Speth’s EV manufacturing expansion pitch, this latest proposal makes perfect sense, especially when one considers that the relatively efficient diesel engines, which for 25 years have made Land Rover’s heavy vehicles viable in so many markets, are rapidly falling from favor in the crowded capitols of the UK and Europe. Land Rover vehicles account for a much greater portion of CO2 emissions than the typical European vehicle average. An electric fleet would help the company manage that environmental impact, while also improving their image and ability to compete amidst ever-tightening environmental legislation.

One quoted expert suggests that JLR has been “slow to wake up to” electric vehicles, it should be noted that they have offered hybrid models for a few years now, and a handful of fully electric Defenders were built around 2010. At that time, the fully electric market was nearly non-existent and hybrid availability was also limited to a few major marques. For a small carmaker, they continue to set trends in their primary area of expertise - creating capable, durable vehicles with top-of-their-class off-road ability, that offer a high level of luxury and comfort, and for those with deeper pockets, a nearly endless menu of customizable options. JLR's investments in the technology sector and emphasis on innovation and growth have placed it in an ideal position to take on other automakers. While those companies may have more direct experience building and marketing electric and hybrid vehicles, there isn't much out there now that would likely stand up to the kind of use Land Rovers are built for.

Thus, I would venture to say that Speth and company are on the right track, and I look forward to watching them bring their plans to fruition. For those who lament the phasing out of internal combustion, you're preaching to the choir. There are few things in this world that are as satisfying to me as rebuilding an old V8, or Tdi engine and listening to it growl through open tailpipes as it hauls you down the road or up the mountain. But, that gets expensive - Land Rover petrol engines are notoriously thirsty. Diesel is better, but the older engines aren't what I would call clean-burning. I would have no problem getting behind the wheel of an all-electric Land Rover to explore some uncharted territory in the back of beyond. Assuming, of course, that someone else goes before me to put some charging stations out there.

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