High performance I-Pace SVR may be on the horizon

Jaguar will eventually make a high-performance SVR version of the I-Pace battery electric SUV—the only question is when. That’s what Michael van der Sande, the head of Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations group, told Autocar, pointing out that no official development plan for a hypothetical I-Pace SVR has yet been implemented.

In the meantime, van der Sande’s team will be focused on higher volume models. Any decision about a SVR edition of the electric SUV will be based on the regular model’s sales results. In the first half of 2019, Jaguar sold more than 9000 units of the I-Pace globally.

When the time does come for a quicker I-Pace, the SVO group will be ready. It currently develops, builds, and preps the Jaguar I-Pace cars that race in the eTrophy series that supports Formula E events, and the department will take what it learns from the track and apply it to road cars. In e-racing, managing battery power is almost more important than how much total power you have.

“We’ve already learned plenty about battery management, heat management, and software development that could be useful for road cars. When the call comes, we’ll be ready,” said van der Sande. “Those cars all come from our base in Oxford Road,” he said, “and they’ve taught us a lot. The battery’s duty cycle is very different in racing.”

Most of the revisions on the eTrophy I-Pace vehicles are chassis upgrades. The 394-horsepower electric powertrain is unchanged for the racing series, but a performance version for retail sale would likely have a boost in power.

Van der Sande sees electrification as the major challenge facing Jaguar Land Rover over the next five years; a challenge likely conquered by a mix of electric, combustion, and hybrid-powered vehicles across the brand’s lineups. The high-end Range Rover SVAutobiography will soon get a plug-in hybrid version, joining the current supercharged V-8.

When you’re a company known for sporting machinery like Jaguar is, you can’t cede the performance side of things to a fashionable startup like Tesla.

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