Luxury cars to be hybrids, says Jag-LR

* Luxury cars won't be electric * Range Rover diesel hybrid on show * Jaguar looking forward, not backwards...

Luxury cars to be hybrids, says Jag-LR

Eight out of 10 luxury cars will have some from of hybrid powertrain by 2020, Jaguar-Land Rover (JLR) bosses believe.

'There is no logic for a purely electric large vehicle,' said Dr Ralph Speth, the CEO of JLR. However, customers more and more want to feel comfortable about [the emissions and economy of] the cars they purchase. We are open to all sorts of combination of combustion engine and electric motor. It will vary by vehicle type.'

At the Geneva motor show, JLR is showing a current Range Rover Sport featuring a diesel-hybrid powertrain that is being developed for the next Range Rover in 2013.

Called the Range-e, it delivers V8 performance thanks to a combination of 415lb ft of torque from the six-cylinder diesel engine and another 163lb ft from the electric motor, yet its CO2 emissions are quoted at less than 90g/km.

'We can play around with the size of the battery to vary the range on electric power,' said Carl-Peter Forster, the head of JLR's parent company, Tata Motors.

Downsizing will also play a part in the group's quest to drive down emissions and fuel consumption. A four-cylinder diesel engine will appear in the XF later this year, and a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine developed from Ford's Ecoboost unit is being readied for the aluminium XJ, principally with the Chinese market in mind.

Redefining the brands
JLR is continuing to try to redefine what the Jaguar and Land Rover brands stand for after successfully doing the same with Range Rover, which will be expanded with the arrival of the three- and five-door Evoque later this year.

'We will develop a new range of iconic cars for Land Rover,' said Forster. 'Land Rover and Range Rover clearly have the same DNA, but one is an English fashionable suit for the city and the other is more like a tweed jacket.

'The sweet spot for Land Rover will be lower price points, but people will also expect luxury, quality and finish,' said Speth.

'The next Defender will be more utilitarian and all about capability, but you can also expect quality of execution.'

Speth also believes Jaguar is in the middle of redefining itself as a 'modern British luxury brand' that looks forward, not back.

The company is currently celebrating the 50th birthday of the iconic E-type while working on a new small sports car, but the two events should not be related, said Forster.

'It's great to have a heritage, but if you are constantly looking back you don't see that everything has changed,' he added. 'Are there sports car opportunities for Jaguar? Sure there are. Should it be a successor to the E-type? Please not.'