Hybrid Cat: Jaguar to Launch Hybrids by 2014

The European Investment Bank loaned Jaguar Land Rover $458 million to develop hybrid vehicles, which, according to recent reports, may reach the consumer market by 2014.

Presently, many Jaguar and Land Rover products are offered with ZF’s slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, but the entire lineup is slated to get ZF’s new eight-speed automatic in the near future. ZF conveniently engineered the new gearbox such that it can easily accommodate an electric motor packed between the engine and transmission -- a similar setup used on many hybrid vehicles, including BMW’s ActiveHybrid 7 Series. Because the transmission will retain the existing bell housing bolt pattern, any virtually any JLR product (save, of course, for the LR2) can use the hybrid system.

“The transmission can be fitted to any of our cars with a [longitudinal] layout,” Peter Richards, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief hybrid engineer, recently told Car Magazine.

Initially, the hybrid driveline will be applied to an SUV, allowing the company to improve the fuel consumption and emissions output of its heaviest models, while simultaneously casting the vehicles in a semi-green light. Car says the Range Rover is first up to receive a hybrid variant, which could launch in 2013. A Jaguar model would follow shortly after in 2014, although it isn’t known which model will receive the eco-friendly touch.

Our bet is that the company’s new XJ sedan will likely be the first Jag to be offered as a hybrid-electric vehicle. Such an offering would contend against the ActiveHybrid 7, Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid, and the Lexus LS 600hL, but Jaguar could have an easier time recouping the cost of adding the hybrid drive (reportedly nearly $14,000) on a fully loaded luxury sedan than on a midsize sports sedan.

Ultimately, the entire JLR portfolio will be offered with the system. Jaguar has already tested the hybrid transmission with its new 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6, but since that engine isn’t certified for North America, engineers are working on a gasoline-hybrid driveline as well. We haven’t heard word on what engine will be paired with the driveline, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the AJ-III V-8 -- the company’s mainstay engine -- appears in future hybrids.

Source: Car Magazine

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