And it all started with one new model.
Jaguar's now legendary design chief Ian Callum knew he was being given a wonderful opportunity with the I-Pace. Because of its all-electric "skateboard" platform, the typical limits of automotive design had changed. Without an internal combustion engine up front, all sorts of cool things were possible, he recently told Automotive News Europe. Above all, this is only the beginning of sexy electric Jaguars as the UK automaker believes it is ahead of the pack when it comes to EV design.
"There is certainly an opportunity in the near-future and mid-future because ultimately electric cars will look very similar since their underpinnings are very similar," he said. "You have to package the electric motor, inverter and the battery but they are joined by wires and not bits of metal so there are opportunities."
Unlike all other current Jaguars and most other conventional production cars today, the I-Pace has a more cab-forward design that's more similar to mid-engined supercars. This bold exterior styling has worked extremely well for Jaguar, which has been experiencing severe financial troubles lately. The I-Pace, simply put, gets noticed and is immediately identified as a Jaguar. That's the good news.
The not so good news is that its bold styling attitude won't last long and will soon become the norm. How come? Because as more new EVs come to market they will have similar battery design layouts. Unique I-Pace features like its four wheels being stretched about as far as possible to all four corners, due to the battery's location, won't be so special. Future EV wheelbases from all automakers will translate to similar design attributes because the batteries need to be accommodated.
However, the I-Pace has one huge thing working in its favor: it arrived first. The I-Pace beat its direct rivals to market, including the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi e-tron and, therefore, has the privilege to claim it helped further define EV design.
"When you design a Jaguar the first function is performance and then beauty. I see beauty as a function," Callum said. "I don't buy into the notion that electric cars have to look strange and funky, or different for the sake of it. This car looks different for the right reasons - because of the way it is designed."
To date, Jaguar has sold 5,862 I-Paces this year alone and lessons learned are already being applied to future EV Jags.