Single-motor Electric Vehicles? Lame, Says Jaguar

Jaguar’s I-Pace seems to be Tesla’s greatest threat, if pre-orders in Europe (and glowing reviews) are anything to go on. The electric SUV, which arrives in the U.S. later this year, features twin motors and a combined output of 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque funnelled to all four wheels.

This is the only way to build a sporty electric car, Jaguar claims. Speaking at the model’s recent global launch, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of vehicle development, Wolfgang Zeibart, said the company threw out any ideas for a two-wheel drive version.

“If you really want a lame duck then you can do it,” he said. This mantra applies to future Jaguar electrics, which will almost certainly appear with the I-Pace’s platform underneath.

According to Wheels, Zeibart made sure to slam Tesla as he rhymed off the vehicle’s attributes. Features, it should be noted, that required a dual-motor setup to pull off. These include handling, traction, regenerative braking, wheelbase, and interior volume.

“The Tesla S was a single-motor design initially, and what that means is if you have only one driven axle you cannot put the wheel into this (I-Pace) position,” he said. “You must move it forward as you need load on the driven axle. When it moves forward you reduce the interior space and the available space for the battery. It’s one compromise after the other and therefore we decided two motors – full stop.”

To recoup maximum energy during regenerative braking, you’d want the electric motor mounted in the front, Zeibart said, but that would impact the car’s launch abilities.

“If you accelerate, the rear motor is the better motor,” he said. “If you want to recuperate, the front motor is the one. We can recuperate up to 150 kW, but if you only do it on the rear axle you are limited to about 60 kW. If you recover (only) from the front, any longitudinal force you apply reduces your available side force. This then makes the car unstable.”

The I-Pace’s purpose-built platform is “definitely scaleable,” Zeibart added, meaning we’ll likely see a range of vehicles built off the I-Pace’s bones. Perhaps a flagship sedan will be among those future models?

But back to Tesla, which Zeibart took every opportunity to poke in the eye.

“The Tesla has a disadvantage as the battery cooling is so poor,” he said. “They have round cells that are basically cooled by air and then they have a water plate underneath. Here (I-Pace), the cells are standing on a water plate so the cooling is much better.”

Tesla apparently refutes this assertion, but Zeibart doesn’t seem to care.

“What we have seen on the Nurburgring, the Tesla degrades rather quickly whereas this car runs the full lap,” he said.

When the I-Pace appears on these shores, it will carry a base sticker of $70,495 (after delivery). Food for thought for luxury EV buyers, as that’s $10k less than Tesla’s Model X. All Teslas stand to see their federal tax credit diminish before too long, too, thus widening the price gap between the two rivals.