Jaguar isn't rushing to add hybrid drivetrains to its line-up, but the company knows that electrification - in part or in full - is imminent.
In an automotive world where major luxury brands appear to be clamouring to add plug-in hybrid options (for example Mercedes-Benz plans to have three plug-in models on sale in Australia by the end of 2015), not to mention fully electric drivetrains, Jaguar stands out as one of the only brands that is sticking with internal combustion - for now.
Jaguar global brand director, Steven De Ploey, told CarAdvice ahead of the 2015 New York auto show that there's nothing to say about hybrids right now, but admitted that electrification of some measure will occur by 2020.
"At this moment in terms of powertrains we haven’t shared anything," De Ploey said, before making reference to the fact that Jaguar Land Rover has a range of hybrid powertrains in use in the Range Rover catalogue (which will commence Australian deliveries later this year).
"At JLR we already have Range Rover hybrid, diesel hybrid – but there’s more of these things to come. We’re investing heavily to make sure that we’re fully compliant – and competitive, because compliant is one thing that just allows you to sell, but it’s much more important from a customer point of view that you’re competitive.
"So in terms of whatever the engines will be on [F-Pace], or any of the other cars, clearly from a JLR point of view, you know, we have the hybrid technology in-house. We even have our eye in terms of full electric technology," he said.
"We have the full scale of technologies including, if you want, also plug-in at our disposal. So, the architecture that you see – the D7A aluminium-intensive architecture – can take any of those technologies. But I can’t share with you today what will be the range of engines in the [F-Pace]."
De Ploey suggested that the brand needed to keep up with legislative guidelines that increasingly require more efficient engines.
"I think if you look at legislation – whether it’s US, whether it’s China or whether it’s Europe, which are the three defining factors – I think it’s very fair to say that obviously with cars at the higher end of the premium range you need to go and electrify. Without electrification there’s no way you can hit the thresholds," he said.
"With the diesel hybrids on the Range Rover, we’ve put the product basically out there - so that’s at our disposal and we can basically roll that out tomorrow if wanted on the various aluminium architectures," he said, before suggesting that the brand is taking a more strategic approach.
"In terms of an overall story, we’re working on an all integrated story, rather than just a car by car drip feed. This is JLR’s electrification strategy, and that will come to you at some point," he said.
"It’s a holistic approach, not this kind of ‘oh wouldn’t it be nice if this car had something, because then the CO2 in this region gets there’ – we have a far more holistic approach now to the planning, to the architectures, to the engines to make sure we deliver, as I said, compliance and competitiveness over the next decade. Not just up to 2020, but beyond that.
"The technology is capable of diesel, petrol, full electric – whatever," he said.
Jaguar chief engineer Colin Kirkpatrick said that Jaguar is working on new technologies, but also took the time to reiterate that the XF diesel manual - which is part of the new Ingenium engine range - is the most efficient non-hybrid vehicle in the luxury mid-size sedan class, using just 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres and emitting 104g/km of CO2.
“Clearly we’re looking at all technologies to improve fuel economy, and when we’re ready and it’s appropriate, we’ll make that call,” Kirkpatrick said.
He mused that while German brands Mercedes-Benz and Audi are pushing hard for plug-in options in different model lines, Jaguar buyers are no different in their demands.
“I wouldn't say the Jaguar buyer is any different to the premium competition,” he said. “We are looking at all available technologies to put the brand in the best possible place.”