Typically, an all-electric-vehicle would need to be wrapped as some insanely fast, exotic supercar or hands-free crotch rocket for us to crown it as monumental.
However, the fact that Jaguar decided to craft the EV technology into this jaw-dropping vintage one-off has us completely rethinking what’s worthy of the accolade. The electrified roadster, dubbed as the Jaguar E-type Zero, makes the idea of owning an all-electric vehicle alluring, even if you think the novelty might wear off down the road.
We have to admit, though, we do find the Jaguar project car a little risky for the British carmaker.
Why? Well, because as intriguing as the E-type Zero is, it could come off as a bit overzealous if the company’s first production EV, the Jaguar I-PACE, doesn’t live up to expectations. The decision to roll out a hot classic engineered with some of the same tech components as the forthcoming all-electric I-PACE significantly raises the stakes for the Jaguar SUV.
Then again, one of the things that makes Jaguar so interesting to watch these days is the fact that the carmaker doesn’t mind pressing the envelope to make a statement. Of course, the trick for a company like Jaguar is to be daring without tainting the rich heritage of the brand.
That said, short of being able to wheel the E-type Zero on a canyon road, we think the concept pulls it all off perfectly.
Unveiled last month at a London tech fest, the emissions-free Jaguar is a shining display of what’s possible when a carmaker stays true to the pure aesthetics of automotive design while pushing the boundaries of technology. The E-type Zero, however, did start with an edge over most EV projects in that it was birthed out of a vehicle that Enzo Ferrari once touted as “The Most Beautiful Car Ever Made.” Hard to contend with those kind of accolades, right?
The E-type Zero, engineered from the bones of a 1968 “Series 1” E-type, was created by Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, not far from where the E-type was originally born in 1961. The Classic Works team went through painstaking efforts to ensure that the electric E-type maintained every minute element of its original form when transforming it into an emissions-free vehicle.
In fact, the raw beauty of the car actually became a major inspiration for the project, explains Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to combine the E-type’s breathtaking beauty with zero emissions,” Hannig shares with Playboy. “The XK six-cylinder engine was made from 1949 until 1992, and was fitted to nearly all of Jaguar’s iconic models of that period, including the E-type, XK120, Mk2 and XJ6.”
The deep history of the Jaguar E-type “Series 1” model is one of the things that really makes the E-type Zero project so intriguing. As one of the earliest E-types, the “Series 1” is widely considered one of the most desirable Jaguars ever made. In 2013, a 1966 “Series 1” Roadster set an auction record at a RM and Sotheby’s Art of the Automobile sale in New York, crossing the block for a reported record-breaking price of $467,500. The car’s popularity has also earned it a few starring roles in Hollywood, including a spot on the hit AMC show Mad Men.
The open two-seater, originally designed by the aeronautical engineer Malcolm Sayer, was inspired by some of the same styling cues that shaped earlier Le Mans-winning racecars. The electrified E-type “Series 1” builds on that appeal in a model powered by a 40kWh battery, with a real-world driving range of 170 miles.
Engineering wise, the emissions-free Jaguar uses an electric powertrain that’s nearly the same weight and dimensions of the car’s original gas-powered engine and transmission, which enabled the Classic Works team to keep most of the E-type’s original structure intact.
The Land Rover Jaguar team even managed to fit the electric motor in the restored model behind the battery pack, in the same location as the gearbox on the original E-type. To maintain the vehicle’s original ride quality, the engineers actually limited the E-type Zero’s output to 220kW or about 295 horsepower. The idea, says Hannig, was to make sure the car drives and handles just like an original E-type.
Even more impressive, the electrified E-type is a full second quicker than the original Series 1 E-type, capable of shooting from 0 to 62 mph time in only 5.5 seconds. Sure, it’s a far cry from the neck-snapping speed of the Tesla Model S P100 D that does 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. Still, given that the E-type Zero’s all-electric powertrain is crafted into a vehicle that’s more than 50 years old, it’s a much more impressive statement about the potential of EV technology. Take, for example, the fact that the Jaguar project car has also been designed in a way that the vehicle’s LED headlights help to enhance the car’s overall energy efficiency.
Hannig says the goal of the E-type Zero is to “future proof” car ownership, showcasing the more classic appeal of Jaguar Land Rover’s electric vehicle technology.
“Having proven the package fits in an E-type, the new electric powertrain could be used in any of these vehicles,” says Hannig. “It reaffirms the Jaguar Land Rover commitment to electrification and shows how we could give our glorious history a bright future.”
The E-type Zero also sets the stage for what arguably will be the British car company’s most daring move to date, the official 2018 road debut of the highly-anticipated Jaguar I-PACE.