Jaguar has decided to turn its ground-shaking jet-powered C-X75 hybrid supercar concept into a $1.1m, Bugatti Veyron-beating flagship for production in 2013 – and is enlisting the aid of the Williams F1 team to do it. The momentous deal – likely to affect everything Jaguar does for decades to come – was announced earlier this month by Tata Motors chief executive Carl-Peter Forster, with Sir Frank Williams in attendance. The car, a plug-in hybrid, will have a 200mph top speed, 0-60mph acceleration in under three seconds, 0-100mph in under six seconds and a 30-mile all-electric range – yet its CO2 output on the EU test cycle – critical to viability for European cars – will be just 99g/km.
At present, there is no financial link between Jaguar and Williams, but the partners have agreed a very close technology transfer, especially over lightweight composite structures, hybridization and lightweight battery tech. Both parties say this is likely to be the first of several co-operative projects. F1 pundits are already noting that the deal brings Tata a big step closer to the direct F1 participation that has often been rumored.
Jaguar is planning to build 250 C-X75s between 2013 and 2015. Most will be road cars, but some will be developed with Williams' help as customer racing cars.
Jaguar continues to work on the jet hybrid concept for the C-X75 originally unveiled at the 2010 Paris motor show, and it may eventually sell a limited number of them. However, Jag bosses have decided that as well as electric motors, most cars will be powered by a “highly boosted” 1.6-liter engine, likely to be related to the four-cylinder racing engine Williams and other F1 teams are set to adopt for 2013. Williams, of course, currently uses engines designed, developed and built by Cosworth. Although Jaguar people will make no commitment about the engine's source, they admit that a deal with Cosworth “would be a good option”.
Production versions of the C-X75 (the concept name is being kept “for the time being” but probably won't make it to the showroom) will feature twin electric drive motors, one front and one rear, thus providing four-wheel drive. Little detail of the powertrain is available beyond the fact that the 1.6-liter engine, which could easily produce 500hp, will work in parallel with front and rear electric drive motors.
There will be three drive modes: electric only, hybrid mode and an “everything on” performance mode. Total power could well be more than 1000hp. Jaguar engineers describe the twin drive motors as “extremely powerful” and say they expect the car to be even quicker than a Veyron.
From the outset, Jag bosses thought it paramount that the car should use a hi-tech, high-efficiency powertrain, not just a tuned version of Jag's V8.
“People expect us to be innovators,” said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar brand director. “The C-X75 received an incredible reception as a concept. We've been building on that momentum and there is a clear business case for the exclusive halo model. No other vehicle will better signify Jaguar's renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this.”
Both turbo and jet-powered versions will use a carbon fiber tub chassis. The chassis is a rigid carbon fiber structure, clad with carbon fiber panels. The brakes are carbon-ceramic discs, and the car has active aerodynamics that minimize drag to build efficiency, but keep the car stable at high speeds. The advanced electronics needed for this and the C-X75's many other sophisticated systems are being developed with much input from Williams.
Jaguar won't yet disclose a curb weight but says its car weighs “less than a McLaren without the battery.” Estimates put the key figure at 3500lbs – impressive for supercar hybrid with three engines and a 660lb battery bank. Prices will “start” at $1.1m when the car hits the market in two years' time.
Jaguar bosses are not saying where the car will be built, except that it will be designed and built in Britain. So far, much of the work has been done at the Whitley engineering center, near Coventry. The production shape will be very close to the concept's, with only minor dimensional changes and alterations to aerodynamic equipment and air scoops and outlets.
Electric power will be stored in a lithium ion battery bank, scaled up from components used in Williams F1 cars and carried in the spine of the car's carbon fiber tub.
Jaguar says it has already begun collecting “expressions of serious interest” from customers and will firm up
on the car's exact specification by September.