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Auto blogTue, 22 Jul 2014 09:13:00 EST
Since buying Jaguar Land Rover, Indian automaker Tata has generally left its luxury arm's platforms and technology alone. However, those days might be gone. The two of them are gradually growing closer with coordinated development and rumors of shared platforms. And it looks like all of that work and money is finally going to pay off with an actual vehicle in the near future.
According to Australian website Drive, Tata wants to make its cars more attractive to buyers outside of India, and to do that the company knows it must improve quality. The Indian company is being careful, though, because it doesn't want to dilute the Jaguar or Land Rover brands with cheap models. "You're going to see in the future a lot of sharing of technologies and platforms over time, but you won't see a JLR with a Tata badge on it," said Darren Bowler, managing director of Tata's Australian distributor, to Drive.
According to Bowler, these future vehicles are already on the way. Tata and JLR have a global platform in the works for 2017 that both companies could use for cars or crossovers. He also hinted that Jaguar's new Ingenium engines could be shared among the brands in the future, too.
Was it right for Chevrolet to detune the 1975 Corvette's base engine to 165 horsepower? Was Aston Martin wrong to make the Toyota iQ-based Cygnet? Is BMW crazy to be testing the new 1 Series with three-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive? It seems now, just as in the 1970s and 1980s, that emissions regulations and social considerations are driving some automakers to adopt unbefitting practices to maintain acceptance in the eyes of governments and consumers. Jaguar has jumped on the bandwagon, and is considering development of small, frugal, front-wheel-drive cars to help lower Jaguar Land Rover's average vehicle CO2 levels in light of tightening European emissions regulations, Autocar reports.
By 2020, the European Union expects the model range of every manufacturer to average 95 grams per kilometer, which is a new law passed by the European Parliament in April. Manufacturers who make more than 300,000 vehicles per year must meet these targets, and JLR is expected to be producing up to 700,000 vehicles per year by then. CO2 regulations after 2020 will only get stricter, as EU politicians already are talking about lowering CO2 levels to between 68 g/km and 78 g/km. (To put that in perspective, Autocar posits that driving a fully charged electric vehicle in Europe produces about 75 g/km when factoring in the power-generation infrastructure.)
Jaguar has some choices here, but so far they all have drawbacks. It could develop a new, compact chassis architecture for a line of compact vehicles, but the investment required for such a project could be prohibitively expensive. Jaguar has been looking into using the Land Rover Evoque platform for a small SUV, Autocar reports, but Land Rover brand manager John Edwards raises issue with such a plan, saying it may not be financially feasible.
Jaguar's long-rumored crossover won't be built on the same platform as the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, says the Australian site Car Advice. The future of the new CUV remains uncertain, but if Jaguar does dip its toes into the SUV/crossover pool, though, the new vehicle will likely be a car-based soft roader, lacking (or perhaps more appropriately, not needing) the off-road-engineered chops inherent in Land Rover's small CUV platform.
Jaguar product planner Steven De Ploey explained to Car Advice, "There's many groups around the world [platform sharing] - obviously Volkswagen Group is doing it all the time - but I think we have to be careful. He added, "Jaguar is something quite different... It's about capability, but very much on-road focused capability." That seems to gel with our suspicions that the XQ, as it's expected to be called, will share its platform with an upcoming small Jaguar sedan, the oft-rumored X-Type successor.
Still, we'd recommend taking any mention of a Jaguar crossover with a grain of salt. Based on many of the (quite compelling) statements made by De Ploey against a Jag crossover and previous statements made by Jag's design boss, Ian Callum, the case against a leaper-bearing crossover seems strong. If a high-rider were to arrive from Jaguar, though, the article insinuates that it'd be more in line with the BMW X6 or upcoming X4 - sort of a coupe-based crossover. Like we said, grain of salt. If a Jag crossover is going to arrive soon, the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show is the most likely locale for its debut. We'll find out in a few weeks.