Jaguar Land Rover has formally launched in Australia its first move into the electric future, with the all-battery electric I-Pace now available for sale at all its 45 dealerships across the country.

The I-Pace is already winning a bag of awards, including this week as “car-of-the-year” in Norway, regarded as the world’s most competitive and advanced electric vehicle market. The I-Pace is widely lauded as the best response so far by the mainstream brands to the challenge set down by Tesla.

At a range of $119,000 for its base-model, up to $150,000 for the “first edition”, the price is an eye-watering one for most consumers. Jaguar sees it as just the start of a dramatic shift to electric and automation.

“Tesla has paved the way, now all the premium brands are coming to the market,” Mark Cameron, the head of Jaguar Land Rover in Australia said this week to a group of journalists invited to test-drive the new offering.

“There is a major transformation going on in the industry right now … we are going through a revolution.

“In 25 years that I been in this business, I have never seen a time like this. It’s not been seen for at least 50 years.

“It’s not just electrification, it’s connectivity, it’s car sharing, it’s automomous driving. All these big technology developments are happening together.”

The I-Pace includes a 90kWh battery, some 470kms of range, and a sumptuous driving experince. It’s also going to be used by people not driving at all.

Jaguar has a massive order with Waymo, the Google authomous driving off-shoot, to deliver 20,000 autonomous versions of the I-Pace a premium Uber-style service without drivers. It could well start within 18 months, that is how close the technology has come.

“The tipping point has happened in what technology will replace the internal combustion engine,” Cameron says.

Many manufacturers are hedging their bets – hydrogen, efficiency gains, But the industry has now said it will all be electrification. We will see such a rapid change in the performance of electric cars.”

Jaguar is following the I-Pace with some hybrid versions of current models, including the Evoque compact SUV early next year and a Land Rover.

“We are moving at pace to introdce some form of electrification in all our models,” Cameron says.

Of course, this does not come without pain for the company and the industry itself.

Jaguar says it has embarked on a massive education program with its dealers – both so that they can properly advise customers, but also come to grips with the technology change and what a future with fewer moving engine might mean for their own business. Think maintenance.

Jaguar acknowledges there will need to be a cultural shift among their dealers, a different way of thinking and different types of challenges.

Charging, and getting their heads around units of electricity rather than litres of fuel, is just the start.

Jaguar says cars are in the stores, but because of pre-orders, customers walking in today may have to wait a few months.

The Driven understand that around 70 sales are already locked in, with around one third of these said to be Tesla owners. These are not defectors, just people who want one of just about everything. It’s the technology geeks that will be the first adopters.

 

Giles Parkinson

Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of www.TheDriven.io, and also edits and founded RenewEconomy.com.au and OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au. He has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

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