Jaguar Has Nothing To Lose

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Jaguar was just about to debut its EV replacement for the legendary XJ sedan only to cancel it at the last moment. Then it declared that it would make a new EV XJ, just a different one. Jaguar is going all-electric in the dumbest way possible, and I still think it’s a good idea. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 16, 2021.

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1st Gear: We All Saw This Coming

Jag has that perfect combo of small size and small stakes that makes me feel like it was inevitable it’d go all-electric, as the company announced in a press release on Monday:

By the middle of the decade, Jaguar will have undergone a renaissance to emerge as a pure electric luxury brand with a dramatically beautiful new portfolio of emotionally engaging designs and pioneering next-generation technologies.

Jaguar goes on to note that it will not be making that EV XJ that has been repeatedly photographed doing pre-production testing:

Although the nameplate may be retained, the planned Jaguar XJ replacement will not form part of the line-up, as the brand looks to realise its unique potential.

Only Jag would announce that it’s killing its most promising electric car in the same announcement as its declaration of going all-EV. Autoblog got a hold of a Jag spokesperson to clarify that, wow, yes, I know this seems silly but rest assured we will make a different EV XJ:

When queried, a spokesperson sent us this in response: “Following a thorough technology review against the exponential change in the automotive industry, we concluded that the planned XJ replacement does not fit with our vision for a re-imaged Jaguar brand. We have made the tough decision that it will not form part of the lineup, as the brand looks to realize its unique potential. However, the nameplate may be retained.”

To make doubly sure that Jaguar is indeed throwing out a nearly-ready EV the same day it announces an all-EV future, we asked again, and Jaguar confirmed.

“We were working on an XJ EV, but have moved on to a different approach for the entire Jaguar EV lineup vision based around a new unique Jaguar EV dedicated platform, all due in 2025,” a spokesperson sent us.

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This is the distinct and unique kind of bad business sense that only Jag could pull off. Still, Jaguar has nothing to lose, and I don’t think even the worst EV ideas could hurt it any more than anything else.

2nd Gear: Now Please Enjoy Toyota Explaining Why It’s Slow On EVs

As a contrast, Toyota recently spoke to Automotive News on why it wasn’t rushing in on battery electric vehicles. (Toyota is somewhat bullish on hydrogen cars, it should be noted). From AN:

Unlike its big competitors, Toyota is not convinced that EVs are the best way to quickly reduce global automotive carbon emissions. Instead, the Japanese automaker believes hybrids and especially plug-in hybrids — in concert with EVs — show the best promise for curbing greenhouse gases because such a portfolio will appeal to a broader range of U.S. consumers.

“The big idea here is that there are different solutions for different conditions for different needs,” explained Gill Pratt, a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who is chief scientist at Toyota Motor Corp. and CEO of the Toyota Research Institute.

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Toyota’s whole case is a little silly, as Toyota has already made electric cars that Americans enjoyed owning. Toyota gave us not one but two EV RAV4s and nothing bad happened because of it.

3rd Gear: Also Toyota Is The World’s Largest Car Company

For a bit of context, Toyota is the biggest car company in the world now, as Automotive News notes in another report on Japan’s three biggest car companies experiencing a post-2020 rebound:

Profits at Japan’s big three automakers — Toyota, Nissan and Honda — all took an upward turn in the latest quarter as they rebounded from the pandemic slump.

Each company reported an increase in operating profit in the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, and all three lifted their operating profit forecast for the full year that ends March 31.

[...]

[Toyota] said its global sales climbed 6.9 percent to 2.4 million vehicles in the October-December period as demand bounced back after being hammered by global COVID-19 lockdowns and production shutdowns. With its late-year gains, Toyota eclipsed Volkswagen to become the world’s biggest automaker for calendar year 2020.

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This is to say that while Jaguar has nothing to lose, really, in going all-in on EVs, Toyota has been doing just fine selling the rest of the world an easy transition with hybrids.

4th Gear: VW Also Pissed About That Battery Ruling

The case of LG claiming that SK stole its battery tech and needed to be barred from the United States ended with a strange fizzle. The Feds ruled that LG was right, SK would get blocked, but with an exception for Ford’s electric F-150 project and VW’s ID program. Ford got a stay of four years, VW got two.

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Ford was not jazzed about that, and now VW isn’t either, as Reuters reports:

Volkswagen AG late Friday called itself an “unintended victim” in a battle between two battery suppliers and urged the U.S. government to extend a reprieve to buy batteries key to its planned U.S. electric vehicle production.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday sided with LG Chem in a trade secrets case, but permitted SK Innovation to import components for domestic production of lithium ion batteries for Ford Motor Co’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s electric vehicle line for two years.

VW said Friday it will request its carve out be “extended to at least four years to give an adequate transition period. Ultimately, however, it is our hope the two suppliers will settle this dispute outside of the courtroom.”

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5th Gear: Why Nissan Won’t Make An Apple Car: Report

We already knew that Hyundai had dipped out of Apple talks. Now we know Nissan has as well. Apparently, the disagreement came over branding, as the Financial Times reports:

Shares in Nissan briefly rose 5.6 per cent on Wednesday after chief executive Makoto Uchida signalled his openness to working with technology groups when asked during an earnings presentation whether the company had been approached by Apple.

But one person with knowledge of the discussions said talks faltered after the US company asked that Nissan make Apple-branded cars, a demand that would effectively downgrade the automaker to a hardware supplier. 

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There is so much pride in the car business. I don’t think it could function without it.

Reverse: Our Foreign Wars Go Waaaaaaaaay Back

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Neutral: When Was The Last Time You Were Snowed In?

I was recently stuck in DC for two days waiting out heavy snow on the highways back to New York City. It felt like something out of a different era, though, to be fair, I do drive a car from a different era. Are you snowed in right now?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

2nd gear: I think Toyota has it right. Toyota isn’t huge in Europe, but is huge in America. And the EU will be all EV at least a decade before America.

1. The EU driver doesn’t take long trips like the US Driver. If it is over 200 km, an EU driver is taking a train when the US driver will drive 600 miles in a day.

2. The EU has more political will to do an EV charging network than the US, even with the new administration. (History says it is likely that in 2028, it will be a Republican Presidency and that will be an anti-BEV administration in charge just as the cars on today’s drawing boards are coming out.)

3. A EV charging network for the US is going to cost a ton more and take a ton more time to build than in the EU. The US is simply more spread out.

Yes, a modern EV will cover 90% of the needs of 90% of Americans right now without a charging network. But Americans are full of “whataboutisms”. A vehicle that does 80% of what they need and has a gas engine to kick in to cover the other 20% is more saleable to a US consumer than a 95% of the needs vehicle that doesn’t have a gas engine to cover the last 5%.