In 1992 Jaguar built an astonishing supercar in the XJ220, but has since abandoned the realm that now includes wonders like the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo, and Porsche Carrera GT. Just a week ago at the Paris Motor Show however, Jaguar unveiled its mid-engine, hybrid C-X75 supercar and reports indicate the car may be headed to showrooms.
According to Britain's Autocar, Jaguar is currently investigating putting the C-X75 into production to compete against Audi's R8 e-tron, Mercedes-Benz's SLS AMG E-Cell, and Porsche's 918 Spyder Hybrid. The sources indicate two different studies are taking place, one on the feasibility of building up to 1000 cars a year and the other on a plan that would double that figure.
The reason two different outputs are being studied is because each volume requires different construction techniques. Building only 1000 cars a year would rely more on hand-assembly, but require less money be spent on tooling. The higher output, would utilize more automation and have correspondingly higher tooling costs.
In creating the C-X75 Jaguar engineers and designers were given free reign, told to develop a "design-led, sustainable, high-performance eco-sports car." Executives wanted something outside the ordinary -- and the team certainly delivered with what looks to be a stylish, modern successor to the XJR-15 with a micro-turbine-extended-range electric vehicle drivetrain. For this same reason, the C-X75 is at least five to seven years out from production.
"We're talking two-to-three years for implementation of the gas-turbine technology, then another three-to-four years to integrate into a vehicle," Tony Harper, head of Jaguar's advanced powertrain department, told Autocar.
However, the micro-turbine-electric powertrain may also work in the C-X75's favor as micro-turbines are much simpler than standard internal combustion engines. The turbines have fewer parts than ICEs and also need only be engineered to operate at a constant RPM rather than the constantly changing rotational speed of an ICE. This should reduce development costs to somewhere in the "tens of millions" of Pounds according to Harper. With such a simple design compared to ICEs, Harper is also confident the micro-turbines can be engineered to the rigorous standards demanded by the auto industry.
We would love to see Jaguar produce another supercar -- and this time hold true to the original formula -- to go head-to-head with the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Audi. However, given the time-span required for the micro-turbine-extended-range electric vehicle setup, the C-X75 may show up late to the hybrid-electric supercar party. We'll leave it up to you to decide the C-X75's fate, should it be built at all? And if you think so, should it offer it with an alternate, but similarly powerful powertrain until production of the micro-turbine setup can begin?