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Tina Casey headshot

New Jaguar EV Challenges Tesla on Sustainable Performance

By Tina Casey

The Intertubes are buzzing over Jaguar's first all-electric vehicle, the I-PACE crossover concept car introduced at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show last week.

The new EV is still in the product preview phase, but the company says it will hit the road in 2018. That's great news for fans of the high-performance Jaguar brand, and it's interesting news as far as sustainable automotive branding goes.

Tesla paves the way for the performance EV ...

Industry observers widely agree that Elon Musk's Tesla Motor Co. did much of the heavy lifting when it comes to establishing the EV market as a luxury and performance-oriented space for auto enthusiasts. (With its foray into energy, the company is now known simply as Tesla.)

Rather than head straight for the affordability market, Musk strategically positioned the Tesla brand to promote electric drive as the "best of the best" for cutting-edge automotive technology.

As a result, EV ownership went beyond a bare bones, save-the-planet profile to embrace all of the goodies that automakers traditionally use to attract buyers at the high end of the market.

... and Tata cruises down the road

Jaguar is already a well-established brand in the luxury and performance field, so the I-PACE has one big advantage out of the box. (The automaker was once known as a British brand, but India's Tata group purchased Jaguar-Land Rover back in 2008.)

The folks at Jaguar are not resting on the brand's laurels, though. A press release for last week's announcement makes it clear that Jaguar expects to meet -- and beat -- Tesla on its own turf, with an EV designed from the bottom up:

Dr Wolfgang Ziebart of Jaguar Land Rover said, "This is an uncompromised electric vehicle designed from a clean sheet of paper: We've developed a new architecture and selected only the best technology available."

The dust will settle when drivers compare the two and add their two cents, but in the meantime Jaguar also teases with this:
"Jaguar's engineering and design teams have torn up the rule book to create a bespoke electric architecture, matched with dramatic design," the company claims. "The result is no-compromise smart, five seat sports car and a performance SUV in one."

The car will feature all-wheel drive with two electric motors, one for the front axle and one for the rear.

Combined, the two motors deliver a torque rating equivalent to Jaguar's F-Type SVR, a super-sporty coupe that Car and Driver magazine described like this:

"Our only advice to the fortunate, crazy folks who find their names on the title to a new 2017 F-Type SVR: The brake pedal is on the left, and maybe hold off on pressing that console button with the squiggly lines behind the car, at least for a while."

That translates into an acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour in about four seconds.

As for the all-important battery range, Jaguar seems confident that a range of 220 miles will satisfy car buyers, along with the convenience of using standard public charging stations.

Catching up with Tata

Beyond comparing cars, the looming competition between Tesla and Tata provides an opportunity to compare the two companies in the area of sustainability planning.

Broadly speaking, Tesla relies on a consumer-driven model, in which people who buy its products do the planet-saving work simply by choosing to buy a zero-emission vehicle. Tesla also just brought another Musk company, SolarCity, under its wing.

Jaguar-Land Rover adopts a more holistic corporate responsibility approach that enfolds entire communities, not just owners of its brand. In 2007, the company launched a carbon financing initiative called ClimateCare.  TriplePundit caught up with the program in 2014:

"Through ClimateCare, Jaguar Land Rover has supported 50 climate and development projects in 17 countries around the world, cutting 10 million tons of carbon emissions and improving the lives of 2 million people."

In 2014, Jaguar-Land Rover announced new targets including the creation of "measurable opportunities" for 5 million people by 2020. The company also expects to involve another 7 million people through humanitarian, environmental and educational projects.

That's no accident. Under the Tata umbrella is something called the Tata Sustainability Group, which communicates with and guides other Tata group members. The policy goes far beyond Tesla's consumer-driven approach:

"The policy will help Tata companies to integrate sustainability considerations into all decisions and key work processes, mitigating future risks and maximizing opportunities. It embodies the principles of product stewardship by reducing environmental impact and enhancing health, safety and social impacts of products and services across their life cycles."

Tata also networks with policymakers in its home nation of India and on a global level. On climate change, for example, the group is involved with India's low-carbon committee, and it belongs to the steering committee of the Caring for Climate initiative of the United Nations Global Compact and United Nations Environment Program.

The group is also part of a coalition linked to the World Economic Forum, called CEO Climate Leaders.

It looks like Tesla has some catching up to do.

Image (cropped): via Jaguar Land Rover.




Tina Casey headshot

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes.

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