JLR has made no secret of their plans for electrification, across their brands. Yes, Jaguar is going fully electric in 2025, and the Range Rover Electric is so popular it's busting the bindings of the order books with 16,000 spoken for. But these days the demand for EVs is cooling off, while customers look more towards plug-in hybrids (PHEV) that combine the best of both EVs and ICE vehicles. With all that in mind, JLR is adjusting its electric strategy over the next few years to emphasize PHEVs.
In 2021, when the EV market seemed more promise-filled, Land Rover announced plans for six full-electric models by 2026, with each of the Land Rover brands (Range Rover, Defender, and Discovery) carrying an EV model. Now the plan is for four, including the Range Rover Electric, in that time. A Range Rover Sport EV was mentioned in 2023 in the company's annual report, which would be a relatively easy vehicle to engineer as it shares a platform with the full-size Range Rover; that will likely be the second Land Rover EV.
After that? Land Rover already announced they'd build an electric Defender at the same Nitra, Slovakia plant where the ICE vehicle is built. But they only said it would come "before 2030" -- a six-year runway that leaves room for it to be built with a second-generation Defender. There are also plans for the new "EMA" platform, a smaller electric-only platform that replaces the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport. JLR CEO Adrian Mardell said that the EMA vehicles would come at least twelve months after the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport EVs, giving time to learn from the larger vehicles. There is no firm timeline for launching the flagship Range Rovers, as they intend to get the vehicle right before putting it to the public.
Meanwhile, JLR has done solid sales of plug-in hybrids in Europe. A continent that once ran on diesel has switched gears in the wake of the Dieselgate drama and new environmental regulations. PHEVs offer a compromise that sits better with many consumers than battery-only EVs. JLR increased their PHEV sales more than any other automaker in Europe in 2023, up 68% to 45,224 vehicles. While we only have access to Range Rover and Range Rover Sport PHEVs right now (and not many -- Europe is eating up most of the stock, and all 2024 models for the United States have been reserved), Europeans have Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar, Discovery Sport, and Defender options as well. The intent is to focus on increasing this production, instead of going all-in on EVs at this time.
Where all of this settles is unknown. JLR is late to the electric game, but as mainstream EVs sit on dealer lots, that may not be a bad thing, especially if they have tried-and-true plug-in technology ready to go as PHEVs look to be more and more the answer the market is looking for. The business failures of 2021 seem like shrewd choices in 2024.
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