JLR outlines plan to go electric with the Range Rover Evoque

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has revealed details of its plan to develop electric versions of its highly acclaimed Range Rover Evoque.

The Evoque_E project will see the company work with 11 other firms and universities to create three prototype vehicles showcasing hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrain technology, in a £16.3m project funded largely by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

JLR has also outlined its plans for a £94m National Automotive Innovation Campus at the University of Warwick to enable it to work more closely with academics and small companies on the next generation of automotive technologies.

The three cars in the Evoque_E project, to which JLR is contributing £4m, are due to be unveiled in 2015 and will serve as technology demonstrators to inform future manufacturing decisions, following in the footsteps of the seven prototype Land Rover Electric Defenders the firm has been testing this year.

The so-called mild hybrid model will use regenerative braking and an electric-motor-assisted petrol engine to produce CO2 emissions of under 95g/km, compared to the 133g/km possible with the standard 2.2-litre diesel engine Evoque, an urban sports utitlity vehicle whose worldwide sales have been a major component to JLR’s success over the last few years.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will be able to travel 30 miles on battery power alone before switching to a petrol generator producing under 40g/km. The battery electric vehicle (BEV) will produce no tailpipe CO2 emissions and have a range of over 100 miles.

The decision to pursue three different electric vehicle models was driven mainly by the variety of carbon dioixide emission regulations that governments in the EU, US and China were introducing, but also by the need to cater to customer demands, according to JLR’s head of research, Tony Harper.

‘From a global perspective, there’s no silver bullet to the CO2 regulations,’ he said at a press conference. ‘It’s the diversity of solution that’s driving the project and the need for a modular approach to meet those requirements.

‘Having said that, we know from recent EV sales that customers won’t accept compromise. They have to be fully capable cars; that’s the other dimension to this.’

JLR has already developed several electric models including a battery powered Defender and a hybrid Range Rover (pictured).

This aim of being able to tailor the car to specific government and customer requirements is also behind the decision to develop every aspect of the vehicles’ powertrain systems within a single project.

The firm said one of the biggest challenges would be developing batteries with sufficient energy density to power the Evoque_E BEV without a loss in performance, and that the firm would be working with the government’s High Value Manufacturing “Catapult” research centre to tackle the problem

‘The design and development of the machines, power electronics and the battery have all got a significant cost challenge to make them accessible in terms of industrialisation,’ said Mark McNally, research manager for hybrid electric vehicles.

‘We’ll be looking at materials, depopulation of components for power electronics, and battery design and assembly optimisation.’

Williams Advanced Engineering will be building on its work on the hybrid electric Jaguar CX-75 concept car to build a modular integrated battery system, and the power electronics will be developed by Newcastle and Bristol universities, Motor Design Limited, Tata Steel and Zytek Automotive.

Cranfield University and Delta Motorsport will develop a system that will regenerate energy not only from braking but also as the car turns, helping to assist stability in the process.

Austrian-based powertrain consultancy AVL will assist with the underpinning system engineering and thermal management. GKN Driveline and Drive System Design will develop the transmission.

Other elements that JLR will focus on include downsized engines, lightweight structures, electric engine boosting and a torque management system developed from that in the hybrid Range Rover due to go on sale next year.

The National Automotive Innovation Campus at Warwick University will support 500 members of JLR’s advanced research team.

JLR has also revealed its detailed plans for the 30,000 sqm National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC) that will see the company invest £50m in order to double the size of its advanced research team, supporting around 500 jobs including a possible 150 new ones.

The NAIC, which will be built from September 2014 and opened in 2016, will be designed to make it easier for JLR to work with partners in industry and academia, according to director of research and technology Dr Wolfgang Epple, who will coordinate the facility’s development.

‘We don’t already have the infrastructure to get all our partners around the table with the technology,’ he said. ‘We also need to find and inspire the fire in young people so they enter engineering. This will be an additional target for the NAIC.’