Jaguar will launch its own hybrid vehicles soon after Land Rover, CAR can confirm. Parent company Jaguar Land Rover is developing battery-assisted hybrid versions for both brands but its strategy puts part-electric Land Rovers first on the launchpad in 2013.
Hybrid Jaguars – set to include the XJ and XF, but eventually every model – are therefore likely to be on the market by 2013-2014, using a similar eight-speed ZF hybrid transmission to petrol-electric BMWs.
The staggered roll-out of battery Jags and Land Rovers makes sense: heavy 4x4s have come in the firing line from green protestors who label them Chelsea Tractors. Hybrid Land Rovers will trim emissions and – in plug-in hybrid mode – enable even big bulky Range Rovers to drive in zero-emissions mode into central urban areas emitting nothing more unsaintly than an electric whir.
So which Jaguars will go hybrid first?
It's likely that the largest models such as the XJ will receive the hybrid power packs first; large cars reap the greater benefit and can more easily swallow the additional cost, put at around £10,000 in today's money.
JLR's Midlands engineering bases in Whitley and Gaydon now employ 100 engineers in the expanding hybrid powertrain business unit launched 18 months ago. They're developing both petrol- and diesel-electric powertrains for use across both model ranges.
Which engines will be offered in hybrid form?
The first working prototypes feature JLR's 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel mated to a 35kW electric motor. It's integrated into the new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that'll quickly spread across the XJ, XF, XK Jaguars and the Discovery, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport; the hybrid pack is no larger to package than the standard non-assisted eight-speed 'box, helping the designers.
'The transmission can be fitted to any of our cars with a north-south [longitudinal] layout,' confirmed JLR's chief hybrid engineer Peter Richings. That rules out the transverse Land Rover Freelander and Jag X-type, but all other models can theoretically be hybridised relatively easily. And that includes the larger V8 petrol engines or indeed smaller four-cylinder ones.
Future Jaguar hybrids will follow the tech shown in the Range_e prototype unveiled this week: a 350v electric system powered by a lithium ion battery pack and controlled by JLR's own proprietary control unit with regenerative braking. The system will be upgraded to a plug-in hybrid system from around 2015, letting owners charge the lithium ion battery at home or work so they can run on full EV mode for longer. It can drive more than 20 miles on battery power alone, emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and yet top up to 70mph on electric mode.
Is JLR putting all its eggs into hybrid then?
Not at all. Jaguar and sister firm Land Rover are researching range-extending hybrids (using an onboard combustion engine purely to charge the battery like the Chevy Volt), Flybrid power recovery systems and of course they're rolling out new lightweight aluminium structures using the company's expertise garnered from the XJ and XK.
Land Rover is also offering front-wheel drive for the first time on its new compact Range Rover launched in 2011. Although 4wd will also be available, many buyers are expected to go for the FWD model which, in diesel spec, will emit less than 130g/km and average more than 50mpg.