The Jaguar E-Type was manufactured between 1961 and 1975. When it was released, Enzo Ferrari called the E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made”. To make sure that the E-Type is still on the road in the future, Jaguar Classic is offering an electric drivetrain conversion which could be the first of many retro electrifications of classic cars, and a new opportunity for the automotive industry.
Jaguar Classic is a division of Jaguar Land Rover Limited, dedicated to preserving and restoring their motoring heritage for future generations. They do this by restoring vehicles to their former glory using traditional methods and remanufacturing parts to their original specifications, if the customers have the money for it.
Jaguar Land Rover are not stuck in the past as they have plans to release an electrified version of every model in their range by 2020. The first of these will be the all-electric I-Pace SUV. The technologies that are going into these models are now bringing new life and better performance to their classics of the past.
Following an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the concept of an electric E-Type at the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in September 2017, Jaguar Classic has confirmed it will offer all-electric E-types for sale.
Combining its restoration expertise with cutting-edge technology from the Jaguar I-PACE, Jaguar Classic will offer tailor-made E-types restored and converted to electric power. To preserve the authenticity of the base vehicle, the EV conversion will be fully reversible. An EV conversion service for existing E-type owners will also be offered. Deliveries of the first electric E-type vehicles are expected to start from summer 2020.
The Jaguar E-type Zero concept not only drives and looks like an E-type, it also offers outstanding performance, with quicker acceleration than the original Series 1 E-type.
Jaguar Classic is targeting a range in excess of 270 km for all-electric E-types, helped by the car’s low kerb weight and sleek aerodynamics. The concept car is powered by a 40kWh battery, which can be recharged in six to seven hours, depending on power source.
Apart from its state-of-the-art powertrain, modified instrumentation and fascia showcasing the latest touchscreen infotainment (which will be available as an option), the E-type Zero concept is largely original. Efficient LED headlights complement the iconic Series 1 design.
An electric powertrain with single-speed reduction gear has been specially designed for the E-type, utilising many Jaguar I-PACE components. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions, and similar weight, to the standard E-type’s six-cylinder petrol XK engine and is in the same location. The electric motor lies just behind the battery pack, in place of the E-type’s gearbox. A new prop shaft sends power to a carry-over differential and final drive.
Using an electric power train with similar weight and dimensions to the outgoing petrol engine and transmission means the car’s structure, including suspension and brakes, has not changed, simplifying the conversion and keeping the driving experience in line with the original vehicle. It drives, handles, rides and brakes like an original E-type with front-rear weight distribution unchanged.
There are many other makes and models of classic cars that could be kept on the road with a similar conversion, especially if emission regulations get tighter in the future. The E-Type Zero could start a trend for other manufacturers to offer retro electrification services.
There is currently a thriving aftermarket industry making conversion kits to swap just about any combination of engine and transmission into any sort of vehicle, usually for performance gains. I can see an opportunity in the future for an EV conversion industry, not only for efficiency and environmental reasons, but for the massive amount of torque supplied by an electric drive system. Street sleepers of the future could be old Commodores and Falcons with Tesla drivetrains. Time will tell.