Last year Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth gave the impression that the British automaker would be one of the last premium brands to add a full-electric car. Last month, however, Jaguar debuted a concept for the battery-powered I-Pace SUV, which will go on sale in 2018. Speth shared JLR's electric car plans with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri and Automotive News Print Editor Rick Johnson.
When we spoke a little more than a year ago you had a very negative opinion of electric vehicles. Now Jaguar plans to debut an EV. What changed?
We try not to talk about things just for the sake of talking. We want to have something to show. Now is the right time to show our idea. We have created the I-Pace from a clean sheet of paper, with a different package and a different design.
What percentage of JLR's global sales will be battery-powered and plug in vehicles by 2025?
Unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball. A lot depends on economic and political influences as well as the state of the charging infrastructure. But, I assume that a high percentage of vehicles in the world's biggest markets will be battery-electric vehicles by then.
Many of your German rivals say EVs will account for 15 percent to 25 percent of their sales by 2025. Does JLR have a similar expectation?
Maybe they have brighter teams who know everything better about the future. I can't predict the future so I can't say whether things will go in that direction.
Will Jaguar have a higher EV penetration than Land Rover or vice versa?
No. Land Rover is also well prepared to make battery-electric vehicles. There are some disadvantages for Land Rover, such as higher starting weight of SUVs, but on the other hand the vehicles are taller, which is an advantage when it comes to finding space to put batteries.
You will buy cells from suppliers and assemble your battery packs. What about your electric motors?
At the moment, we buy the electric motors, but we have to think what we will do in the future. When you reach a certain volume, it makes sense to build an internal combustion engine in-house, but for an electric motor it's not as clear at what volume it makes sense. Also, the electric motor is not that complex so from a production standpoint it's not a challenge to make.