Is it time to redefine the meaning of the word "car'?
If we had a nickel for every time an automaker said they were "redefining" one type or another of automobile, we'd probably have enough saved up by now to buy a few of them. But this time, Jaguar is actually and most literally changing the definition.
The British automaker is lobbying the Oxford University Press – arguably the ultimate arbiters of the English language – to change the definition of the word "car" to extend beyond motor vehicles with internal-combustion engines and include electric vehicles like, oh, say the Jaguar I-Pace.
As Jaguar points out, the I-Pace was named both World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. But according to OxfordDictionaries.com, it isn't actually a "car," in the strictest sense of the term and its traditional definition.
While the Oxford English Dictionary says that a "car" is "usually" (though not necessarily) powered by an internal combustion engine, the online version (which draws from multiple sources) strictly defines a car as a "'A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people." Not an EV, in other words.
To rectify the situation (and garner a bit of publicity), the automaker has filed a formal application with the Oxford authorities to have the definition "updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles."
"A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it's surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated," said Jaguar Land Rover's David Browne. "We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines towards more sustainable powertrains."