Jaguar has confirmed its commitment to electric vehicles with the announcement of plans for the I-PACE electric SUV, but there’s another model in the works that sports car enthusiasts will find even more exciting because it’s based on an iconic design many decades old.
One of the threats classic car owners may one day have to face in many countries is the outright banning of internal combustion engines. Of course, in many cases this is political rhetoric plain and simple, but it does cast something of a shadow over the entire collector car field.
For drivers who’d love to own a classic but are reluctant to take the plunge with gasoline as a fuel, Jaguar may have the answer. The E-Type Zero, a concept right now, could offer the opportunity to own a sports car that’s been described as the most beautiful automobile ever built. Under that sensual hood lurks not a traditional Jaguar inline twin-cam six, but a powerful electric drivetrain that endows the Jag with more speed than the original model boasted back in the 1960s. Like all pure electric vehicles, the Zero creates no emissions whatsoever and is quiet and smooth to drive.
The E-Type Zero, which made its debut late last year in London, is based on the 1968 E-Type Roadster and was engineered by Jaguar Land Rover Classic at the division’s new Coventry, UK, factory. The facility is close to where the original E-Type was born. Jaguar points out that one of the aims of the Zero is to future-proof classic car ownership. Initially, the exercise is just a concept, but Jaguar is watching reaction to the car closely to assess whether full production is a worthwhile proposition.
According to Jaguar, the E-Type Zero will accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5-seconds, a second quicker than the original Series 1 E-Type. Electric motors are noted for the amount of torque they develop and the rapid delivery of that torque. With electric vehicles, there is none of the ‘spooling up’ of power you experience with an internal combustion engine. Full power with a car like the Zero is available ‘right now’ and it’s a thrilling experience for the driver.
The Zero is based on a restored roadster with a totally original specification, apart from the electric powertrain, efficient LED headlights (hiding within original streamlined glazing) and a modified instrument panel and dash. The electric powertrain develops 220 kW and was specifically designed for the Zero. Interestingly, it has similar dimensions and weight to the original 3.8-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. It’s also in the same location to offer comparable weight distribution to the old car. The battery pack sits behind the motor in the same location as the gearbox on the 1960s car. All told, the car weights about 46kg less than the old model. The aim of the design team was to ensure that the Zero handled, rode and braked just like the old Series 1.
Jaguar underlines that the electric powertrain could be fitted to any of the company’s classic models that were built around the twin-cam six, so perhaps one day we could see electric recreations of the XK120, Mk2 and XJ6. It all depends on how the market response turns out.
As far as range goes, the Zero is expected to run for about 270km without recharging the 40kWh battery. This should be more than adequate because few owners of a car like this would take it on a lengthy road trip, any more than they would an original E-Type.
Right now, Jaguar is riding the crest of a wave with record sales worldwide and production numbers undreamed of just a few years ago. Enthusiasts will rejoice in the fact that the fabled manufacturer is spending at least a little of its profits on projects like the E-Type Zero. Jaguar built its reputation on legendary sports cars and sports saloons and the company is not going to forget that any time soon.
Perhaps it won’t be too long before this amazing car appears at Jaguar Land Rover Richmond’s spacious and opulent new dealership at Richmond Auto Mall. JLR Richmond has been named “Retailer of the Year” by Jaguar Canada for five years in a row and if the E-Type Zero becomes a production reality, they’ll be among the first dealers in the country to get them.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Sports coupe
ENGINE: 220 kW electric motor with 40 kWh battery
TRANSMISSION: Direct drive
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in 5.5-seconds
TOP SPEED: Around 250 km/h
PRICE: To be announced when production plans are firmed up