Australian drivers could have another luxury EV to choose from by the end of the year, with British car maker Jaguar Land Rover set to unveil its first fully electric car at the end of the week.
The car maker said on Monday it would conduct a “digital” launch of its electric SUV, the I-Pacee, alongside two new plug-in hybrid models, via live broadcast on Friday.
Prices and specifications of the car will then be announced, “and order books opened for full configurations” immediately following the reveal, the company said.
The official “public debut” of the car will be at the Geneva Motor show, on March 6.
For Australian customers, Jaguar Land Rover Australia (JLRA) has confirmed to RenewEconomy that it expects to begin retailing the I-Pace in October, while $A pricing will be announced “in the coming weeks”.
According to reports, six Australians have already paid deposits for the car, despite not knowing its retail price (estimates put it at around $120,000) or all of the car’s performance specs.
When it does land on Australian shores, the I-Pace will add another luxury EV to Australia’s embarrassingly small collection of available models, most of which are also priced at upwards of $A100,000.
Nonetheless, it is further evidence Australia’s EV market could be – finally – starting to take off, as more and more car makers shift their focus to electric.
In late-2018, early-2019, the arrival of the mid-priced mass market offerings from Nissan (LEAF) and Tesla (Model 3) are expected to be major game changers.
In comments to Fairfax newspapers, JLRA managing director Matthew Wiesner said his company’s plan was to begin building local “support infrastructure” for the EVs in the coming weeks.
“This is a real first for us,” Wiesner said. “We’ll roll it out in the city and the regional dealerships at the same time. The next big thing will be what we do beyond the dealerships.”
On the specs of the car, not a great deal is known, although a spokesperson told RE by email that “indicative figures” suggested the I-Pace would be able to achieve 480km on a full charge.
According to Wired – whose reporter was given a test drive of a prototype I-Pace in December last year – there are already 25,000 people “interested” in buying the electric SUV, which it says could be a serious rival to Tesla’s Model X.
“(Jaguar) sold 150,000 vehicles globally in 2016, which was up 77 per cent on the year before,” the Wired article said.
“If it gets the I-Pace right the company could capitalise on the growing demand for both SUVs and electric cars, and have another hit on its hands.”
On charging, JLRA said the I-Pace would be capable of rapid recharge from zero to 80 per cent in 45 minutes (using a DC 100kW fast charger) and had been “rigorously tested across extremes of terrain and temperatures from -40°C to 40°C.”
In comments to Motoring.com this week, Wiesner said the company was in discussion with fellow luxury brands on using “common plugs” and other aspects of charging.
“We don’t want the crazy situation where BMW, us, Benz and Audi all have different charging plugs, or whatever it might be,” he said. “It’s good that everyone is talking.”
Readers can watch the live reveal of the I-Pace on Friday 1 March here (5pm AEDT).