Production has just started and needs to remain hiccup free.
The Jaguar I-Pace Electric SUV was unveiled as a concept car less than a year ago, but we have already seen a production-ready version roaming the streets of Monaco. This SUV will be incredibly important for Jaguar while representing the first true rival for the Tesla Model X. Clearly Jaguar cannot mess around with getting the I-Pace to market so the EV will be built by Magna Steyr, a vehicle manufacturing division of Canadian supplier Magna International. Even though Jaguar designed the I-Pace, Magna Steyr had a big say in it.
Automotive News spoke to Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Magna Steyr's president of vehicle technology and engineering to learn how the company became involved in the development of the I-Pace. We were invited very early in the product development time frame in order to provide our process and manufacturing engineering proposals," Stracke said. "We tried to include the right processes in the product early on. In other words, do the product design the right way from the start. We led from the manufacturability point of view. We did this for every function; body exterior, drivetrain, body interior, body in white, paint. We did this with all functions and optimized the design."
The I-Pace posed some unique challenges for the company's production engineers because of its aluminum body that will be assembled using new joining methods, such as welding of aluminum, riveting and bonding. This is also the first Jaguar model to have batteries in the floor and electric motors on the front and rear axels. Magna Steyr is located in Austria, and the company has proved that it can build high-quality cars such as the Aston Martin Rapide. Jaguar needs to ensure good quality on the I-Pace because reliability was a huge problem for Tesla with the rushed release of the Model X. Tesla was very ambitious with the falcon-wing doors, but they ended being more of a problem than a convenience.
Stracke said the first I-Paces are being built now and the vehicle will launch this year in Europe and arrive next year in the U.S. Journalists haven't had the chance to drive the I-Pace yet, but Stracke has. He said that "The acceleration is unbelievable; it is faster than Tesla. You press the accelerator and it pushes you back into the seat. The steering is very agile and nimble and you don't feel the mass of the car. The chassis performance is gorgeous. It's unbelievably quiet. There is some fine-tuning going on with the suspension, but that's normal work. I am 100 percent certain it will challenge a lot of cars on the market today." We're really looking forward to the I-Pace. If Jaguar can pull this off, it could be huge for the brand.