The current buzz word in the automotive industry is ‘electrification’.
All car makers seem to be focusing on an electric future and in the UK that really doesn’t look to be too far off.
The UK Government has banned new cars powered purely by petrol or diesel engines from 2030.
Hybrid technology, which combines internal combustion engines with battery power, has a slightly longer shelf life – but only until 2035.
So, it’s no surprise that Jaguar Land Rover’s new CEO recently presented his electrifiation strategy for the Coventry car maker’s future to the world.
Thierry Bolloré outlined a tandem approach, which will see Jaguar become an all-electric brand in the not too distant future and Land Rover still offering a mix of powertrains globally.
However Mr Bolloré also spoke of hydrogen – another way of powering vehicles which may have a big part to play in the automotive industry of the future.
Hydrogen powered cars are already here and while it is seen by some as peripheral to electric power the technology is interesting to say the least, as well as being lean and green and could bring many benefits.
In the wake of a detailed analysis of Jaguar Land Rover’s electric future CoventryLive has again spoken to Warwickshire automotive expert Dr Charles Tennant to look at electric versus hydrogen and what might be on the cards.
Mr Tennant is a former chief engineer at Land Rover and also served on the board of Tata Technologies.
Where are we at with electrification and Jaguar Land Rover?
Charles Tennant (CT): “ For some time now I have been saying that the future for Jaguar must be electric and this has now at last been confirmed by CEO Thierry Bollore with his bold Reimagine master plan.
“Loss-making Jaguar is going all-in to an electric future by 2025 by when they will have ditched their current range of six vehicles – the large luxury XJ has already gone – and vehicle production at Castle Bromwhich will end.
“This extremely ambitious plan will involve designing – or maybe buying in – a single bespoke scalable battery electric (BEV) platform.
“Like Jaguar, Ford has so far launched only one BEV – the Ford Mustang Mach-E – but they are designing their small electric using Volkswagen’s MEB platform.
“This form of platform collaboration should not be dismissed by Jaguar Land Rover without some serious thinking about the costs involved of going it alone – especially as Jaguar Land Rover’s near term investment is capped at £2.5 billion per year and they will have fewer people as they aim to be more agile.
“Another consideration are the considerable risks involved going ahead without scale (VW had to grapple with major software problems before launching their delayed ID.3 electric car) and are investing an astronomical 73 billion euros over the next five years to future proof their own electric dreams of leapfrogging Tesla in sales.
“Jaguar’s plan is by no means unique as other companies have already announced their intentions: Bentley are switching to a fully electric vehicle line-up by 2030, Mercedes-Benz have said they will earn as much from electric cars as combustion engine models by the end of this decade and BMW is to launch nine new electric cars by 2025.
“There is now a race on – with 10% of all cars sold in Europe and the US being either electric or plug-in hybrid – as manufacturers accelerate electric vehicle launches to meet emission regulations and a growing global demand.
“Whilst we do not actually know how many cars (or what type) will be in the future Jaguar stable; they will have a distinct personality from Land Rover – so that should finally end the sales cannibalisation from competing SUVs.
“With Jaguar sales now plunging volume will no longer be the driver, instead senior management hubris believes its electric vehicles will deliver new benchmarks in quality and efficiency for the luxury sector, with higher profit margin sales to the most discerning of customers.
Jaguar is not aiming to chase Tesla, instead they are aiming their sights squarely at Aston Martin and Bentley market segments.
“I am sure that the Jaguar creator Sir William Lyons would approve, especially if superlative cars like my own personal Jaguar XJS are recreated (without the 5.3 litre V12 engine of course).
Jaguar’s path seems clear but what of Land Rover?
CT: “For Jaguar Land Rover’s profit engine, Land Rover, the future looks quite different and at a slower pace where the first battery electric vehicle will appear in 2024 – probably the Road Rover – and just 60% of the range will be all-electric by 2030 and 100% by 2035.
“It will use its own bespoke platform – the aluminium Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA). The perennial issue for Land Rover – whose large SUVs have higher weight and drag so need more energy to propel them – is how to electrify them with the long range expected by customers because it is physically and economically challenging to package a large enough battery.”
What are some of the practical challenges with battery electric vehicles?
CT: “Battery electric vehicles use lithium-ion technology, where during charging the positively charged lithium-ions flow from a cathode through the electrolyte to the anode where they are stored, and during discharge electrons flow back to the anode through an outer circuit.
“Whilst we are familiar with the small light and inexpensive lithium-ion batteries that power our laptop computers and mobile phones, for electric cars the batteries are huge, heavy and expensive.
“Their energy capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) where a 100kWh battery can literally deliver 100 kilowatts of energy for one hour.
“Typically, several metres in length and located along the car chassis under your feet, they are expensive due to the rare metal content and the hundreds of individual battery cells packaged into modules, assembled into the liquid cooled battery pack where the electronic management system software controls the temperature at optimum levels for peak efficiency and reliability.
“Another important performance parameter for batteries is energy density – measured as the energy per unit of weight (Wh/kg).
“So, a Jaguar I-Pace battery has an energy density of 149 Wh/kg and weighs 603kg whereas a Renault Zoe battery weighs a much lower 305 kg with145 Wh/kg.
“The issue driving the battery size and weight is range and the vehicle’s kerb weight; where the Renault is 1,468kg but the Jaguar is a much heavier 2,133kg; and range where the Jaguar goes 292 miles between charging and the Renault does 245.
“This law of physics is why batteries are problematic for the heavy Land Rovers.
“Also, whereas battery costs have fallen 89% in the past decade – driven by manufacturing technology and higher production volumes – the sweet spot of $100/kWh where the battery will be as low as 21% of the total vehicle cost is not expected until 2023 when EV car prices will be on parity with combustion engine cars.
“Long warranties guaranteeing 70% of original capacity for up to eight years use or 100,000 miles are also typical and challenging to achieve.”
Does hydrogen have a place in Jaguar Land Rover’s future?
CT: “ Land Rover have now created a two-pronged attack confirming that hydrogen fuel cell powertrain development (as well as battery electric) is a key part of its own electrification master plan.
“And so, we now have another acronym to contend with – the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).
“Talk of hydrogen and we may recall the Hindenburg airship disaster of 1937 – but with the latest fuel tank technology it is considered to be no more dangerous than petrol engine cars.
“Hydrogen cars just need to be filled up at a pump where it is stored in an on-board tank.
“The hydrogen is fed into a fuel cell, which creates electricity by converting the chemical energy of the fuel with an oxidising agent such as oxygen, through a pair of redox (reduction-oxidation) reactions where the oxidation states of atoms are changed though electron transfer.
“As with BEV cars the tailpipe emissions of a FCEV are zero – just water is emitted from the hydrogen reaction.
“Few hydrogen cars are currently on the market and they are expensive (only two are available in the UK right now – the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai ix35) and the fuelling infrastructure is as rare as hens’ teeth, where most filling stations are in London, and it is the same for the US with California.
“Also, it costs about £75 to fill a hydrogen tank whereas a full charge on an electric car is only about £8 on a home charger.
“But as the hydrogen infrastructure is expected to grow, particularly for commercial vehicles that need a high range and ability to refuel quickly, as with battery range anxiety it will improve.
“The main hydrogen innovators are Toyota, Hyundai and Honda; although Nissan, Ford and Mercedes have carried out some development and BMW have a model due out called the i Hydrogen NEXT SUV.”
Where is Jaguar Land Rover at in terms of hydrogen?
CT: “Land Rover already has a hydrogen FCEV research project called Zeus, which is funded out of a bigger £73m research programme – the Advanced Propulsion Centre based at the University of Warwick – aimed at delivering a zero-tailpipe emissions premium SUV concept: with typical Land Rover attributes such as long range, quick refill, towing, off-road and low-temperature performance. Project partners are Delta Motorsport, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry.
“Whilst the first concept car is likely to be a Range Rover Evoque the technology is seen as paramount for larger vehicles such as Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar, Discovery and Defender.
“It is unlikely to be used on the new range of Jaguars given that they will be smaller and lighter and can therefore get by with a battery only capability.”
What advantages does hydrogen offer?
CT: “The weight advantages are enormous so for a 312-mile range a hydrogen tank including the fuel weighs 92kg, whereas the equivalent battery-electric car has a battery pack weighing 540kg.
“Furthermore, the battery costs £11,000 yet the equivalent cost of the high-pressure hydrogen tank is less than £2,000 and whilst the purchase price for a FCEV maybe prohibitively expensive right now, costs would inevitably reduce in time with higher take up by other manufacturers.
“However, whilst battery electric cars are shredding 0-60mph times (because the stored energy is readily available), for a FCEV the energy must be created first so acceleration and top speed is comparatively slower.
“But with a potential 400-mile range and faster refuelling hydrogen power is seen as a good option, particularly in countries where off-road vehicles are required but there is limited electric vehicle charging.
“And whilst the king of BEV cars – Tesla’s boss Elon Musk – is obviously not a fan of FCEVs (calling them fool cells), a recent survey of 1,000 global auto executives concluded that hydrogen fuel cells have a better long-term future than electric cars and will eventually represent the real breakthrough.”
What do the UK Government and the European Union think of hydrogen?
CT: “The UK Government has shown further commitment by forming a Hydrogen Advisory Council.
“However, hydrogen is not currently zero-carbon as it is extracted from natural gas; but eventually it may be classed as a renewable energy where wind turbines will be used to crack seawater into hydrogen and oxygen, through an electrolysis process on an industrial scale.
“With analysts claiming that hydrogen may meet 24% of world energy by 2050 the European Union (EU) also has its eye on this and wants hydrogen production to be decarbonised by 2024.
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