JLR, VW & Ford accelerate electric vehicle development
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has secured a £500m loan guarantee from the Government at the same time Volkswagen (VW) and Ford announced a multi-billion deal on electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle infrastructure.
The loan to JLR will see the government’s UK Export Finance agency support the design, manufacture and export of electric cars with the cash, which will be topped up by a further £125m from commercial lenders.
The news follows the firm’s plans to retrofit its Caste Bromwich factory with technology to produce EVs, creating an all-electric, battery-powered version of its XJ saloon followed by other vehicles. It is also believed key elements of the vehicle will also be produced in the UK, including electric motors manufactured at the company’s i54 engine plant in Wolverhampton, with batteries made in a new centre in Warwickshire.
The company’s first electric vehicle, the iPace wasn’t manufactured in the UK, and was instead produced under contract in Austria by Magna Steyr. JLR was one of the first firms to make bold EV commitments, stating in 2017 that it would only make electric or hybrid vehicles by 2020.
Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement at a Department for Transport event with leading car manufacturers in the UK, including Aston Martin, BMW, Nissan and Vauxhall, and also energy and utility companies, such as Shell, BP and National Grid. It comes as the industry struggles with lower demand for diesel vehicles and the uncertainty around Brexit with the cross-border ‘just in time’ manufacturing procedures relied upon to build cars in the UK.
VW and Ford
The news arrived at the same time Volkswagen announced plans to join with Ford for investment and integration of Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle platform, as well as plans to partner on EV architecture.
The two brands hope that the AI platform, valued at $7bn, will enable them to scale up integration of self-driving technology into their own vehicles, which will be done independently by the companies.
Ford will also use VW’s Modular Electric Toolkit to design and build an EV in Europe, which will be available from 2023. Both companies also announced that they were on-track to offer commercial vans and trucks across specific global markets with shared development costs, which was originally announced in January.
Ford has pledged to bring 16 new fully electric and 24 hybrid models to market by 2025 as part of its $11bn low-carbon transport plan. Launched in 2017, the first move detailed in the plan is for Ford to bring a fully-electric SUV to market in 2020.
VW has already made significant pledges on moving to EVs, following the dieselgate emissions-cheating scandal in 2015, proclaiming it will make no new petrol or diesel cars by 2026. The company’s ongoing EV expansion will also see the automaker produce an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2030.
It has already launched electrified versions of two of its most iconic models – the e-Golf and the ID microbus – and is reportedly developing plans to produce an “affordable” range of EVs, starting at €18,000 by 2021.