Jaguar turns clas­sic E-type into an EV

Auto Car (UK) - - NEWS - STEVE CRO­P­LEY

AN ELECTRIC JAGUAR E-type called Con­cept Zero has been un­veiled by Jaguar Land Rover Clas­sic, the com­pany’s fast-grow­ing her­itage di­vi­sion. The Con­cept Zero is iden­ti­cal to the clas­sic orig­i­nal ex­cept that its con­ven­tional XK en­gine has been re­placed by a 295bhp electric mo­tor and a bat­tery big enough to give a 170-mile “real-world” range.

The new model, aptly dubbed Project Mar­mite in the early months of its 18-month ges­ta­tion, is the brain­child of JLR Clas­sic chief Tim Han­nig.

An avowed old-car lover with his own clas­sic col­lec­tion, Han­nig is quick to ac­knowl­edge that an electric E-type won’t suit every­one and may out­rage a few. But he has nev­er­the­less coined the motto ‘We fu­ture his­tory’ for JLR’S new­est di­vi­sion, be­liev­ing it must look to a time when big cities have zero-emis­sions zones, and to a new breed of buy­ers who desire clas­sic mo­tor­ing “with­out the oil leaks”.

The Con­cept Zero’s sav­ing grace from the purist’s point of view is that its electric con­ver­sion is de­signed to be re­versible. Tra­di­tional me­chan­i­cal parts will be re­tained so an owner can re­turn a car to its orig­i­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Against the stop­watch, the Con­cept Zero is also near­stan­dard, of­fer­ing the same 150mph top speed claimed for the petrol orig­i­nal in 1961, plus a very sim­i­lar 5.5sec 0-60mph time.

Be­neath the long bon­net, the Con­cept Zero’s bat­tery sits in the space for­merly oc­cu­pied by the E-type’s fa­mously heavy 3.8-litre six-cylin­der iron-block en­gine, with the new drive mo­tor (plus its sin­gle-speed re­duc­tion gear­box) in the space pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by the four-speed gear­box. A mod­ern Jaguar’s ro­tary con­troller dic­tates for­ward/re­verse move­ment and no clutch is needed. The re­sult of the work, re­mark­ably, is a 46kg sav­ing.

The electric pow­er­train con­nects to the rear wheels via the orig­i­nal tail­shaft and dif­fer­en­tial. The in­verter and power elec­tron­ics sit in the boot. If the Con­cept Zero takes off, these com­po­nents will be re­designed to save space (and im­prove boot room) util­is­ing ‘fam­ily’ com­po­nents from the I-pace and other forth­com­ing electric mod­els, much as Jaguar spread the XK pow­er­train through its range 60 years ago. Hav­ing en­gi­neered this con­ver­sion for the E-type, Han­nig be­lieves he has a set-up suitable for most Jaguar clas­sics.

JLR es­ti­mates the cost of a re­stored electric E-type at “north of £300,000” but has al­ready had pos­i­tive re­sponses from po­ten­tial own­ers. Han­nig will con­firm pro­duc­tion when a batch of prospec­tive buy­ers has emerged, af­ter which the car will be fi­nessed to give it more com­mon­al­ity with the I-pace. It’s an off-the-wall project, Han­nig ad­mits, but he also be­lieves the day of the electric E-type is com­ing.

Bat­tery pack sits where the 3.8 six would oth­er­wise be

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