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Jaguar launches I-Pace races to dispel 'boring' image of electric cars

Alan Tovey
Jaguar is beginning an single series racing championship for its new I-Pace electric cars

Jaguar Land Rover is aiming to shake off the “boring” image of electric cars by launching a race series using its battery-powered I-Pace.

Ralf Speth, chief executive of the UK’s biggest car company, last week said that all the marque’s new cars from 2020 will offer an electric option. However, he warned the switch over to the new power source has the potential to cause geopolitical shifts as the motor industry’s dependence on oil dwindles.

JLR chief Ralf Speth has warned of huge social and political change because of self-driving and electric carsCredit: Reuters

In an effort to promote the technology, he announced plans for a single-make race series using the I-Pace, the company’s first electric car, which will support the Formula E championship - the electric car equivalent of Formula 1 racing.

“Future mobility will not be boring,” said Mr Speth. “The technology we are developing on the track allows us to deliver thrilling electric vehicles to our customers.”

The eTrophy series is expected to run alongside the 2018 Formula E race series, the chief executive said as he delivered an update on JLR’s performance to coincide with the start of the Frankfurt motor show.

The race version of the I-Pace revealed at the Frankfurt motor show

In the year to date, JLR's sales of cars were up 8pc on the same point in 2016, at 401,565 vehicles, with the F-Pace, the first SUV in Jaguar’s stable, leading the rise as demand doubled.

Sales are expected to get another boost when the the E-Pace - a smaller version of the F-Pace which was launched by the company in July - kick in. Some industry analysts forecast that the SUVs will eventually dwarf sales of Jaguar’s traditional saloon cars.

Jaguar's E-Pace small SUV was launched with a spectacular barrel-roll stunt

Demand in China for JLR’s cars continued to recover, rising more than a quarter, in the first eight months of the year, with a 13pc increase in North America. Sales were more subdued closer to home, climbing 4pc in the UK and 1pc across Europe.

Mr Speth used an event last week promoting electric and self-driving technology - where the company revealed one of its 1960s E-Type sports cars fitted with an electric power system - to warn of the challenges the electrification of the automotive industry poses.

Jaguar has revealed a classic E-Type sports car refitted with an electric drive train instead of a petrol engineCredit: Reuters

Predicting it will cause massive social change, the JLR boss, raised question about the future of the UK’s 250,000 lorry drivers, saying they could become obsolete with the introduction of self-driving trucks.

“These are hardworking people in well-paid jobs,” Mr Speth said. “What happens to society if they lose their jobs? Who pays for them? What happens to the ­social fabric because of the mobility revolution?”

Electric cars charged with power generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar or nuclear could also “change the geopolitical map”, he said and cited predictions about the “end of big oil”.

He said some forecasts suggests widespread adoption of electric cars could result in the price of a barrel of oil dropping to just $25, a level he warned would “put the national budget of oil-producing nations under considerable threat, straining social barriers”.

 

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