The race is on to produce the best electric vehicle in the world.
But how? It takes continuous work on battery technology, along with advancing the engineering of its electric motors and creating a design that befits the performance from its system without polarizing potential customers.
So far, Tesla has jumped in the lead. With its three-model lineup, they have shown how to create a propulsion system with longer battery ranges that will ease anxiety for its owners. Yet, they have been stumbling on various fronts—from financial stability to vehicle quality.
With these issues causing havoc at Tesla, the door has opened up for new players in this luxury electric vehicle business. Each new entrant has been working on extending battery range to 250 miles on a single charge and beyond while developing a design that customers will like and accessible to their tastes. These new entrants vying to meet and exceed Tesla’s lead just happen to be from some the most established automobile manufacturers in the world.
One of those contenders is the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace. This is not a left-field entry, since Jaguar and its parent company, Tata, have been working with battery electric propulsion systems in a motorsports environment. What Jaguar and Tata learned from Formula E racing have been translated onto a sporty four-door luxury crossover that is seen here.
To find out more about the Jaguar I-Pace—and to give a test drive—we chatted with Jason Hinchcliff and Ben Weaver of Jaguar Land Rover Minneapolis about this newest entry in the electric vehicle market.
The first we wanted to know was why has Jaguar jumped into the EV market. Hinchcliff explains that “Jaguar’s been a brand that’s about style. It’s a racing car brand in the beginning, and about style. Everybody knew when a Jaguar goes by, they know it’s a Jaguar. They really put that into this car. This is made by a car company and not a tech company. They wanted the cleanliness of the interior, they didn’t want it to be too confusing like some other cars. They wanted it simple, but stylish. The finish is very, very well appointed. And I think you can see that.”
In terms of how customers will own and drive the I-Pace, Hinchcliff also explains that “(for) most of our customers, this is definitely their second car. It’s not their only car. So, you have that flexibility. They have that flexibility to take their [Chevrolet] Suburban up north, and [the I-Pace] is their everyday driver where they got 30 miles to work and back, and they can charge it in their house charger, the regular charger, and be fine every day. They don’t have to worry about charging it.”
But, why did Jaguar—and Land Rover/Range Rover—choose to have their first full-battery electric vehicle as a crossover? “They’re branching out into all sorts of different products,” Hinchcliff explains. “They’re going both feet in and they’re going hard at it. Now every product that comes up the next six months will have an electrified version, which is kind of interesting. Even a Range Rover Sport, full-sized Range Rover, they’re [going to have] have hybrid options. And then any product coming out in the future will have a hybrid option, or be electric.”
After the customer has gone through the sales process with Hinchcliff and his fellow sales staff, the customer will meet Weaver, who is part of Jaguar Land Rover Minneapolis’ Encore Department. Weaver will assist the new I-Pace customer on everything from vehicle delivery to post-sales support. That also includes specific items related to the I-Pace.
“I would give them the information about the charging infrastructure when it comes to their home or all the charging available ability around the Twin Cities,” explains Weaver, “Also, just the capability when it comes to the range of the vehicle, the maintenance that comes with the vehicle or, with the I-PACE, the lack thereof maintenance that comes with the vehicle. Just everything about what it means to be driving an electric vehicle.”
That information also includes aligning resources to the customer. Weaver could point out to mobile apps that will find charging stations away from home – including Level 3 FastChargers which you can use on the I-Pace – as well as places to purchase and install home charging units if their home is not equipped.
With this talk of charging infrastructure and battery life, one big concern for electric vehicle customers would be on range. Jaguar officially stated that their full battery range is 234 miles for the I-Pace. Yet, in reality, there are variances due to the climate in the Upper Midwest. In other words, your actual range will vary depending on air temperature, whether your garage is heated and insulated well, and so forth.
About the rest of the Jaguar I-Pace, you will find that it is a wonderful vehicle to drive. The ride quality is superb, as is the handling and cornering experience. The ride is also helped to have the Active Air Suspension to make things smoother—and allows the vehicle to drop down 0.4 inches when driven at 65 MPH or above. It also helps that the battery pack sits between the axles for a low center of gravity inducing superb lateral. There is no mistaking this electric vehicle for a Jaguar: a truly sporting experience overall.
With electric vehicles, you do get the burst of immediate torque from the two motors, one for each axle. Total power is rated at 354 horsepower with a whopping 512 pound-feet of torque. And yes, you do feel all of that torque right off the bat.
Gone are the days of Jaguars past with its burled wood dashboards, Jaeger instrumentation, and rich Connolly leather. The I-Pace continues the theme of Jaguar’s newest vehicles: a driver-focused cockpit with a lot of new technology surrounding you. The instrument binnacle itself is a full TFT screen that is customizable with a choice of gauges and readouts. The center stack features a dual touchscreen set-up. The upper screen houses the infotainment system with its new graphical interface, while the lower screen is set for and the climate control and other comfort settings. Everything inside the I-Pace is of the highest quality in terms of switchgear and materials.
The I-Pace offers a sporting seat arrangement with plenty of bolstering for support. The leather feels great and in all, the driver feels comfortable behind the wheel. There are plenty of electrically-operated adjustments available for all drivers to experience the feel of this EV. Rear seat room is fine for average-sized adults.
The most important piece of the I-Pace is its sexy silhouette punctuated by a sleek coupe-like profile. A higher ground clearance is the only giveaway of its intentions as a crossover, but it has the sexy lines and signature details that make it a Jaguar.
Because there are electric motors on board, you do get a front cargo compartment that fits a few more bags—just a hair short of a full cubic feet of space—along with a spacious 25.3 cubic feet rear space that is expandable with the sear seats down to 51.0 cubic feet.
Pricing for the I-Pace starts at $69,500. Our tester was the First Edition model that is fully specified. The price tag starts at $85,900 for the First Edition.
It would be easy for us to present the Jaguar I-Pace as the absolute answer in full-battery electric crossovers. There are plenty of choices available: some are months away from arriving in their respective showrooms. We can safely say without mentioning a certain competitor from the Silicon Valley that the Jaguar I-Pace is an electric vehicle worth considering—and owning.