NICK GIBBS

Why Jaguar won't show the I-Pace at Frankfurt

The Jaguar I-Pace concept.
Nick Gibbs is a UK correspondent for Automotive News Europe.
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Jaguar Land Rover said on Thursday that it will offer electrified variants of all its new models starting 2020. Curiously, the company is not following up the announcement by unveiling the production version of Jaguar's first battery-powered vehicle, the I-Pace crossover, at the Frankfurt auto show.

The car's absence looks like a missed opportunity.

Jaguar will be the first of the premium European makers to launch a genuine Tesla rival, but without the I-Pace, the spotlight at Frankfurt will swing to new electric vehicles planned by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen Group.

Jaguar debated launching the I-Pace at Frankfurt but decided against it for one big reason – high demand for the car even before its launch.

There has been so much interest in the I-Pace, which will sell for less than the Tesla Model X at about 60,000 pounds in its home market, that JLR figured it that the show attention would be better focused on its more mainstream entrants, a company spokesman said.

It wants to focus in Frankfurt on the first auto show unveilings of the E-Pace compact SUV and the XF Sportbrake wagon.

Jaguar says it has over 25,000 confirmed orders for the I-Pace, with customers in big markets in Europe and the U.S. placing "four-figure" deposits, despite the not knowing the exact final price. That order book is almost two year's worth of production at Magna Steyr's contract manufacturing plant in Graz, Austria, where the I-Pace will be built based on capacity predictions from IHS Markit.

The I-Pace was unveiled as a concept at last year's Los Angeles auto show and is due to go on sale next spring/summer. The final version will not deviate very much from the concept, the company has said. JLR plans to reveal the production I-Pace early 2018.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com.

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