Jaguar Land Rover Wants to Build an Electric Car in China

Several other automakers are planning the same thing.

Jaguar Land Rover is planning to build an electric car in China, an executive said in a recent interview with Bloomberg. Local production will help JLR tap into the massive Chinese electric-car market, and keep up with other automakers planning similar moves.

JLR already produces the Jaguar E-Pace locally with its Chinese partner Chery Automobile Co. Murray Dietsch, president of the JLR-Chery joint venture, told Bloomberg that the same local manufacturing infrastructure will be used to build an electric car, with details to be disclosed within a year.

The only all-electric model in JLR’s current lineup is the recently-launched Jaguar I-Pace, but that could be a candidate for Chinese production. Dietsch said he expects the electric-car market to grow in parallel with the SUV market, predicting that “you will see more battery-electric SUVs in the market in the future.”

China is both the world’s largest overall new-car market and the largest market for electric cars. Generous government incentives have inflated demand for electric cars and, while the government may pull back some of those incentives, stricter emissions standards set to take effect in 2019 will likely prod automakers to build higher volumes of electric vehicles. This is leading multiple automakers to enact ambitious electric-car plans for China.

Audi plans to launch five all-electric and plug-in hybrid models in China by 2022, while Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler is spending 655 million euros ($764 million) to build electric cars in the country, according to Bloomberg. Outside of the luxury segment, Ford is partnering with Chinese firm Zotye Auto on electric cars, and Honda plans to launch a China-specific electric sub-brand, called Everus.

JLR plans to offer a hybrid or all-electric powertrain in every model it makes beginning in 2020, but the automaker will likely lean more heavily on the hybrids. It already makes plug-in hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and could fill out much of the rest of its lineup with less-complex mild-hybrid powertrains. But there will still likely be room for at least one more all-electric model alongside the I-Pace.