Hitting Reset on EV Development


Jaguar Land Rover has canceled several planned vehicles and opted to reassess its Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) after the company started fretting about the probability of unmet emissions requirements. Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mardell addressed investors on Friday to explain that all subsequent development of the platform would be postponed indefinitely. Ironic, considering MLA was supposed to be flexible enough to facilitate electrification and putting a lid on it means canceling the planned all-electric Jaguar XJ sedan and at least one unnamed Land Rover.

Rather than its intended purpose of underpinning all JLR products by 2025, the MLA platform is now said to be used exclusively on Land Rover’s larger SUVs. Meanwhile, the manufacturer has decided to prioritize its battery-focused Electrified Modular Architecture (EMA) as it tries to place a greater emphasis on electrification moving forward. Sadly, that means the $1.4 billion it spent in service of advancing MLA and finding a new partner that can help make Jaguar all-electric by 2025.

While the company’s Electrified Modular Architecture is supposed to facilitate that (starting in 2024), so was the Modular Longitudinal Architecture and JLR has indicated that most upcoming EMA models will probably still have a very small gasoline engine or generator to help with range. Just by its nature of being designed for larger automobiles, MLA seemed to boast a bit more flexibility in terms of powertrain options. According to Automotive News, the end results apparently don’t help the company reach its emission goals or provide the latest in automotive technology — which is why it feels okay with scrapping so many projects.

From AN:

JLR will write off 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) of investment related to those products as part of the company’s “Reimagine” strategy, Mardell told financial analysts on the investor call on Friday.

“There are costs involved, including the cancelation of the MLA-mid program, the XJ replacement and the Land Rover BEV,” Mardell said. The investment due to be written off had largely been made in 2019.

Jaguar Land Rover had intended for the MLA platform, which supports full-electric, plug-in hybrid and internal combustion engine drivetrains, to underpin nearly all its models by 2025, according to a presentation the company showed to investors in 2018.

“Reimagine is about being one step ahead on compliance. The current MLA program would not have done that for us,” Mardell explained. “We would have been in catch-up in this compliance and that just isn’t good enough in this industry today.”

“[The XJ] will not be ahead of the tech curve. It wouldn’t have that modern luxury, that future Jaguar vision, that drop-dead aspiration that we need to make this brand work …That’s why the brand worked 30 years ago, 40 years ago. We have got to capture that for this to be actually cash generative and EBIT positive. So we had to make a tough decision.”

JLR has already confirmed it will have to pay the European Union the equivalent of $35 million (USD) for failing to adhere to 2020 CO2 emission reduction targets. Considering the money that’s been squandered on abandoned development programs and the general financial troubles the automaker has been facing, we’re becoming quite concerned with the JLR’s wellbeing.

The company’s strategy now hinges on an electric-heavy platform intended for smaller vehicles and BEV-only architecture that doesn’t yet exist. It’s also reducing sales projections by a massive amount. JLR previous desire of moving 1 million automobiles per year has been revised to just 400,000 — roughly what it sold in 2020. However, in order to avoid bankruptcy, CEO Thierry Bollore also wants Jaguar Land Rover to use the new Reimagine plan to send vehicles upmarket to make them more profitable. So we have a relatively fancy, though struggling, automaker that’s going to be raising the price of its vehicles while transitioning to a new powertrain it doesn’t seem to be having any luck with?

Should be fine.


[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]

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