Jaguar Land Rover slows EV rollout as electric car demand cools

Jaguar Land Rover slows EV rollout as electric car demand cools

Automotive News Europe — 2024-02-08

Automotive Industry

Jaguar Land Rover is slowing its battery-electric car rollout as it adjusts for a cooling EV market and focuses on plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The automaker is extending development times for its BEVs and is "working hard" to make more plug-in hybrids available in response to increased customer acceptance of PHEV technology, CEO Adrian Mardell said.

JLR said in 2021 that it would launch six full-electric Land Rover models by 2026 but has now lowered the number to four. The company also plans to launch two all-electric Jaguars by that date.

"We are a little bit slower than we said three years ago,” Mardell said on a Feb. 2 earnings call. “We are taking our time to make sure that we put the best vehicles we have ever developed into the marketplace."

JLR has opened the waiting list for the Range Rover Electric SUV, which will become Land Rover’s first full-electric model when it launches later this year. An electric Range Rover Sport will follow, the company said in its 2023 annual report. Both EVs will us the same MLA large SUV platform as the combustion engine versions.

The next two all-electric Land Rovers will be smaller models built on the JLR’s upcoming EMA electric platform that will replace the current combustion engine platform used by the Range Rover Evoque compact and Discovery Sport.

JLR has yet to disclose which models those will be, but candidates include electric replacements for the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Velar. A full-electric version of the Defender could come after those vehicles. JLR said in October it plans to build a Defender EV at its factory in Slovakia. It did not give a specific timeline, saying only it would be before 2030.

Jaguar relaunch

The automaker will relaunch the Jaguar brand in 2025 with new four-door GT battery-electric model costing more than 100,000 pounds ($126,000) and built on a separate Jaguar Electrified Architecture (JEA). A second, all-electric Jaguar is planned.

Mardell indicated that the more mainstream EMA cars will come 12 months after the two electric Range Rovers, with the Jaguar models following after that.

Mardell said JLR would be prepared to delay the launch of the Range Rover Electric to ensure the EV was perfect. "If that takes a few more months to get to that point, then the team will be allowed it," he said.

JLR said 16,000 people had joined the waiting list for Range Rover Electric. The company has not disclosed prices, although JLR Chief Financial Officer Richard Molyneux said on the earnings call that the EV's price would be high enough to keep the company’s much improved profit margins.

Automakers have seen demand for EVs cooling, especially at the higher end of the market, which has had a knock-on effect on development. “What you have seen from other OEMs is that the race to BEV is starting to stutter a little,” Mardell said.

Plug-in demand 'surprise'

JLR has navigated the collapse in demand for diesel vehicles with a shift to plug-in hybrids, which it now offers across its Land Rover lineup, as well as on the Jaguar F-Pace and E-Pace SUVs.

Last year across Europe, JLR increased plug-in hybrid sales more than any other automaker. The company's sales of plug-in hybrids rose 68% to 45,224 in 2023, figures from market analyst Dataforce show.

"PHEV acceptance has been quite a surprise," Mardell said. "We are working hard in the interim time to make more PHEVs available to the marketplace.” JLR's plug-in hybrid sales had been constrained in recent months by supply-chain issues.

JLR has said previously that 60% of all sales will be BEVs by 2030, rising to 100% by 2036.

Other automakers are seeing initial strong demand for BEVs weaken globally as they try to convert a wider audience away from combustion engines.

"We learned that as you scale EVs from 5,000 to 7,000 units a month and you move into the early majority customer, they are not willing to pay a significant premium for EVs,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said on the automaker’s earnings call on Tuesday.

Ford said it too would focus more on hybrids. "Hybrids will play an increasingly important role in our industry's transition and will be here for the long run,” he said, adding that margins on hybrids were closer to those for combustion engine vehicles and "much higher” than EV margins.

The Ford Kuga was Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid in 2023 with 53,659 sold, beating the Volvo XC60.

Plug-in hybrids remain a key technology with automakers including Ford, Volvo, JLR, Volkswagen Group, BMW and Hyundai-Kia to reduce their average Carbon Dioxide due to their very low recorded emissions.

Environmental groups however have complained that real-world emissions for plug-in hybrids are far higher than those achieved in laboratories.

Plug-in hybrid sales captured 7.7% of the European market last year, according to data from ACEA.

Toyota last year was the second-best-selling brand in Europe after the Volkswagen brand, boosted by its long-established commitment to hybrid technology. About 70% of the 830,000 cars it sold in Europe in 2023 were full hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles.