Another gas mobile (kind of) bites the dust.
When I wrote about Volvo's announcement to move to all electric/plug-in/hybrid cars, commenters quickly (and rightly) rebuked me for suggesting the phase in/out would be complete by 2019. The real announcement—still exciting—was that all new models would be (somewhat) electrified by that date.
So let's see if I can get it right this time. Business Green is reporting that all new model lines from Jaguar Land Rover will be electric or hybrid by 2020. There are a number of reasons why this is an encouraging sign.Land Rovers, Range Rovers and Jaguars are huge: Meaning, they burn a lot of gas. Meaning, electrifying them will save a lot of gas. Meaning, well, you get the idea...
Jaguar Land Rover doesn't currently make ANY electric cars: Car customers can be very brand loyal. So while Tesla may be eating in to Jaguar Land Rover sales, it's a fair bet that a significant chunk of existing Jaguar Land Rover drivers would have a hard time switching to a different company. A broader range of companies offering electric and hybrid models means a broader swath of the public that's ready to buy them.
It's a hedge against global adoption of SUV culture: As Lloyd wrote before, SUVs and pickup trucks are taking off in China and India. But electric car sales are too. While I would love to see a day when a tank-in-every-driveway is no longer the norm in the US—and hope that norm never arrives elsewhere—this provides a hedge/mitigation strategy against broader adoption of larger vehicles. (And, yes, I say this as a member of a family that currently has a plug-in tank.)
It's just one more sign of where things are headed: Every time we see progress on electrification, someone will point out that plug-in car sales are something like 0.5% of the market globally. But there's potential for this to change fast. As Tesla ramps up to build over 500,000 cars a year, as existing cars like the Leaf get redesigned for mainstream appeal, as cities and entire countries start banning internal combustion engines, companies like Jaguar Land Rover which bet heavily on diesel and oversized vehicles will inevitably have to play catch up or get left behind. And when they do get with the program, it's likely that electrification will pick up steam of its own accord.
Now, I share my genuine excitement about this with one big caveat: electrified Land Rovers are still freaking Land Rovers, and I do sincerely hope that the streets of London, Copenhagen, LA or Shanghai will one day not be clogged with vehicles originally designed for farm work and jungle adventures. But we've got to start somewhere. Who knows? If Ford can start making e-bikes, maybe Jaguar Land Rover can expand its thinking from switching out drivetrains to switching out business models.
We can but hope.