Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is gearing up for a charge on the electric car market.
Britain's biggest car manufacturer is planning to reveal its first electric car, after recently unveiling an Autodrive project with Ford and Tata Motors to test connected and automated cars in the UK.
The new vehicle is expected to be in the crossover segment – combining SUV and passenger car qualities – though a spokesperson for the company would not comment on when an announcement could be expected.
JLR produces more than 500,000 cars in the UK each year and 80 per cent of those are exported.
A focus for the car giant of late has been driverless cars: it's introducing a fleet this year and by 2020, has plans to have more than 100 of them on Britain's roads on test routes.
And it flirted with going electric last year, saying it was entering the Formula E electric car championship. It sparked speculation that the racing car's technology would be used as a blueprint for Jaguar's electric car ambitions. While JLR hasn't provided any detail on when it will be rolling out electric cars, tighter emission rules are placing the onus on firms to shape up fast.
EU regulations say JLR needs to cut the emissions its fleet emits as a whole by 45 per cent by 2020, compared with the 2007 level, or risk penalties.
It was recently revealed that Toyota too has been eyeing up electric vehicles. It has traditionally been more vocal on the benefits of gasoline-electric hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles, and cautious to commit itself to electric cars, because of challenges relating to range limits, battery life and the refuelling time.
But the Nikkei newspaper reported the company would be selling its first long-range EV in 2020, though Toyota hasn't publicly committed to a time scale.
Last week, Toyota's executive vice-president said: "The answer to Toyota's ultimate eco-car is clearly the fuel-cell vehicle and our view has not changed. But just as we have a full line-up in terms of vehicle types and geographical reach, eco-cars are no exception. We want to have a system in place that would enable us to consider the launch of an electric vehicle."
Rival Volkswagen is targeting a quarter of its sales being electric by 2025. In the first half of this year worldwide sales of electric cars were up 57 per cent to 285,000 and there are now more than 1m electric cars on the world’s roads for the first time ever.