Jaguar Land Rover has become the latest large carmaker to say it will stop launching new models solely powered by internal combustion engines, two months after Volvo pledged to do so.
The UK-based manufacturer promised that all new models from 2020 will be fully electric or hybrid, a year later than Volvo’s target, but a big step beyond its unveiling last November of a single electric concept car.
The plan comes after the Scottish government said it would phase out the need for petrol and diesel cars by 2032, eight years earlier than the UK and French targets of banning sales of new cars with internal combustion engines.
Dr Ralf Speth, JLR’s chief executive, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice.”
But Speth also warned of the unintended consequences of the electrification of cars and arrival of autonomous vehicles. The UK’s 250,000-plus lorry drivers are at risk from driverless technology, with knock-on effects for the UK’s social fabric, he said.
Furthermore, electric cars’ impact on petrol and diesel demand could hurt oil-producing nations, Speth said. “Many could be forced to impose substantial spending cuts within the next five years, straining living standards and so creating unrest in areas already suffering from instability,” he added.
Protecting privacy in an era of self-driving cars would also be vital, he said. “The very technology that could liberate us, autonomous vehicles, could become a method of insecurity and enslavement … Big freedoms could end up creating the big brother state.”
While Speth has said he sees battery-powered cars as a way to grow its global workforce of 40,000, the high emissions of the carmaker’s petrol and diesel vehicles mean it has to go electric to meet stringent new European carbon targets.
Average CO2 emissions from JLR cars were 164g (5.8oz) per kilometre in 2015, well above the UK average of 121.4g. More importantly, they are a long way from the 95g target a manufacturer must hit by 2021.
JLR, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Tata, makes no electric cars but plans to begin building production versions of its battery-powered SUV next year.
The I-Pace will have a range of 310 miles (500km), putting it on a par with competition from US-based Tesla but ahead of cheaper options such as the new Nissan Leaf, unveiled on Wednesday.
JLR has indicated that it would like to build an electric car plant in the UK, similar to Nissan’s Sunderland facility, where the Leaf is built, but it has yet to make a concrete commitment. The Leaf is the UK’s bestselling electric model, and this week Nissan revealed its new design and an extended, 235-mile range.
Such a move would be a significant boost to the British car industry and follows BMW, which in July pledged to build its electric Mini in Oxford. Jaguar sold more than 583,000 cars in 136 countries last year.
Industry watchers had spotted earlier this year that JLR had trademarked a series of car names that suggested an electric future, although the company will continue to build existing petrol and diesel models beyond 2020.
BMW, which has sold 8,000 electric cars in the UK, said on Thursday that it plans to have 25 electrified vehicles on sale by 2025, a dozen of which would be fully electric. The German carmaker boasted that the models would have a range of up to 435 miles, more than double the range of most current electric vehicles.
Governments keen to tackle air pollution and cut carbon emissions are driving electric car production, alongside falling battery prices.
However, a report found that on average, 1.7% of carmakers’ sales were electric vehicles, compared with their own target of 3.6%.