British luxury marque Jaguar has already commenced the production of its I-Pace electric crossover, with the first examples to land in European showrooms before the end of the year.
Industry journal Automotive News reports the upcoming Tesla Model X competitor is being built by independent vehicle manufacturer, Magna Steyr, in Austria - the same facility that built the first Aston Martin Rapides.
Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Magna Steyr's president for vehicle technology and engineering, told the publication the first lot of production I-Pace SUVs are being built now, with a European launch scheduled before the end of the year. The I-Pace will arrive in the US sometime in 2018.
Despite the I-Pace being an all-new model with an all-new platform and a new drivetrain, Stracke doesn't believe there will be many issues with I-Pace production, as Magna has been involved with the electric SUV project almost from the very beginning.
"We were invited very early in the product development time frame in order to provide our process and manufacturing engineering proposals," he said.
"We tried to include the right processes in the product early on. In other words, do the product design the right way from the start. We led from the manufacturability point of view."
"We did this for every function - body exterior, drivetrain, body interior, body in white, paint. We did this with all functions and optimized the design," he added.
The Magna team has, however, run into a couple of road blocks. As the I-Pace is unlike any Jaguar produced before, the company has had to use several new production methods, including welding aluminium, riveting and bonding.
Despite this, Stracke is quoted by Automotive News harping on about the dynamic potential of the I-Pace, saying it will be quicker and better to drive than the Tesla Model X.
"The acceleration is unbelievable; it is faster than [a] Tesla. You press the accelerator and it pushes you back into the seat. The steering is very agile and nimble and you don't feel the mass of the car," he said.
"The chassis performance is gorgeous. It's unbelievably quiet. There is some fine-tuning going on with the suspension, but that's normal work."
"I am 100 per cent certain it will challenge a lot of cars on the market today," he added.
Revealed for last year's Los Angeles motor show, the Jaguar I-Pace concept featured a 90kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, giving the electric SUV a projected range of up to 500km.
A 147kW/350Nm electric motor sits at both the front and rear axles, giving the I-Pace a system output of 294kW power and 700Nm of torque. Drive is sent to all four wheels via a single-speed transmission.
Jaguar claims the I-Pace can sprint from 0-100km/h in "under four seconds", which is a full second quicker than the equivalent Tesla Model X 90D, while also offering a relatively practical 530-litre luggage area behind the second row of seats.
Inside, the concept showcases an array of upcoming infotainment systems and driver assistance technologies for the brand, including a new 12.0-inch central touchscreen display, a 5.5-inch secondary touchscreen positioned between the climate controls, along with a 12.0-inch digital driver's cluster and colour head-up display.
While the production version of the I-Pace is scheduled to be revealed sometime this year - likely to take place at the Frankfurt motor show in September - it's expected the I-Pace that will be available to public won't differ too much from the 'concept' that preceded it - especially going by the words of Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar.
"This isn’t just a concept. It is a preview of a five-seat production car that will be on the road in 2018. This will be Jaguar’s first-ever battery-powered electric vehicle and opens a new chapter in the history of our legendary brand," he said at the I-Pace concept's reveal last year.
Speaking with CarAdvice, James Scrimshaw, manager for product public affairs at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Australia, said the local arm expects the I-Pace to arrive Down Under in the second half of 2018.
Interestingly, Scrimshaw added that information provided to the Australian arm indicates the electric SUV won't go on sale globally until 2018 - contrary to Automotive News's coverage.