The next XJ EV sedan is dead. So now what?
Big changes are happening at Jaguar Land Rover. Earlier this month, CEO Thierry Bollore announced plans for Jaguar to become an electric-vehicle-only automaker by 2025. Plans for the upcoming pure battery-electric XJ flagship sedan were also oddly canceled, likely for budgetary reasons. Bollore intends to reduce the number of Jaguar SUVs as well, leaving that highly profitable segment to sister brand Land Rover, which is scheduled to launch its first EV in 2024, and aims to launch six new EV variants of its existing models over the next five years. LR will still utilize combustion engines paired to hybrid plug-in systems for the next several years, however.
Jaguar, meanwhile, is to become a low-volume brand with the goal of competing against the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Thing is, developing an EV platform from scratch is not cheap and makes no financial sense to do so considering Jaguar's new status.
Automotive News Europe reports Jaguar intends to find a partner for that architecture. "Naturally there is massive appetite to work with us," Bollore said. Deciding to seek a partner company "was a matter of scale and speed to go to market." He refused to name any potential automakers he's been speaking with, only admitting talks are currently happening. EV platform sharing is nothing new. Ford, for example, will build a new Europe-only EV crossover on Volkswagen's MEB platform starting next year.
This business model clearly has many financial benefits, but there's one significant downside: design restrictions. Jaguar's designers will soon be handed an existing architecture for which they had zero input during its development, unlike the now-dead next-gen XJ. A new XJ could still happen, just in a different iteration with someone else's platform.
Designers will have no choice but to work with what they're given, hindering design in many ways. However, Bollore remains committed to great Jaguar designs and added this new platform "has to respect the proportion of designs." JLR head of design, Gerry McGovern, emphasized the "need to look for opportunities out there in terms of architectures that we could utilize or refine to give the stunning jaw-dropping Jaguars I'm talking about."
Bollore didn't completely rule out developing this platform internally though this would probably still be done with a partner to keep costs under control. The MLA architecture developed for the now-scrapped XJ will instead be used only for future Land Rovers, beginning with the next-gen Range Rover.