Jaguar Land Rover & BMW Will Collaborate On Electric Car Powertrains

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Convergence in the auto industry is continuing, driven by the need to develop efficient, affordable electric car powertrains. Jaguar Land Rover and BMW are the latest companies to say they will work together to create EV technologies that both will share. Working together is expected to speed up the process while spreading the cost of development over more cars, reducing the overall cost per unit of batteries, charging systems, energy management systems, and electric motor technologies. It will also cover connected and autonomous systems for future vehicles.

JLR I-PACE electric car

Nick Rogers, JLR’s engineering director, tells Auto Express, “The transition to ACES [autonomous, connected, electric, shared] represents the greatest technological shift in the automotive industry in a generation. The pace of change and consumer interest in electrified vehicles is gathering real momentum and it’s essential we work across industry to advance the technologies required to deliver this exciting future.

“We’ve proven we can build world-beating electric cars but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products. It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next-generation EDUs to support this transition have significant overlap, making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.”

Jaguar Land Rover is a relatively small player in the world of automobile manufacturing, but it is seeking to be a leader in the industry by getting out ahead of the curve when it comes to producing electric vehicles. Until recently, it relied heavily on diesel engines to power is relatively large vehicles and has suffered mightily as the world turned a cold shoulder toward diesel in the wake of the Volkswagen cheating scandal.

Its Jaguar I-PACE was one of the first electric SUVs/CUVs available on the market, and although it is a delight to drive, it is noticeably less efficient than the electric cars from Tesla and Hyundai, and its electronics are considered to be inferior to those offered by other manufacturers, especially Tesla. The I-PACE was named Auto Express Car of the Year for 2018, but it needs to be better if it has pretensions of being world class.

Being relatively small, JLR has less leverage with suppliers. Working with BMW will help it tap into the German company’s enormous buying power, which should help reduce the cost of the components it needs for its future electric cars.

BMW was a leader on electric cars when it launched the i3 in 2013 but has struggled to capitalize on its fast start since then. It hopes to benefit from the expertise JLR gained from creating the I-PACE. It says its fifth-generation eDrive technology, which will be introduced in the iX3 all-electric SUV due in showrooms next year, will be the system used as the starting point for the joint project with JLR.

“The automotive industry is undergoing a steep transformation,” says Klaus Frohlich, head of development at BMW. “We see collaboration as a key for success, also in the field of electrification. With Jaguar Land Rover, we found a partner whose requirements for the future generation of electric drive units significantly matches ours. Together, we have the opportunity to cater more effectively for customer needs by shortening development time and bringing vehicles and state-of-the-art technologies more rapidly to market.”

In a statement, JLR said, “A team of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group experts will engineer the EDUs (electric drive units) with both partners developing the systems to deliver the specific characteristics required for their respective range of products.” BMW says the joint project will be based in Munich, where its engineers will share office space with Jaguar Land Rover personnel.

The question now is, if they don’t get this right, will either or both of these companies fall by the wayside over the next 5 to 10 years? The EV revolution is going to see some well known enterprises drop out of the race over time. It’s inevitable. The only question is, which ones?

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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