British – but Indian Tata-owned – carmaker JLR Group (former Jaguar Land Rover) announced on Thursday it is going to prep its Defender plant in Nitra, Slovakia, like the factories of Halewood and Solihull to produce electric vehicles. JLR wants to launch nine new EVs by 2030 as part of the company’s Reimagine Strategy.
In preparation for its new electric future starting with the new all-electric Range Rover in 2024, JLR opened a few days earlier its Future Energy Lab, a new £250 million EV test facility at its engineering center in Whitley, Coventry, that is developing Electric Drive Units (EDUs) for the next-generation pure electric Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar models.
New Defender and Discovery
The news of being assigned as one of the company’s EV factories for the future comes for JLR’s Nitra plant at its fifth anniversary. In Slovenia, some 5 000 workers have been building 365 000 New Defender and Discovery vehicles to date since production started in October 2018. Switching to three shifts, Nitra went from 2 000 to 3,000 cars a week recently.
Which new EV models the Slovenian factory will get hasn’t been detailed yet. According to the press release, Halewood will become JLR’s first all-electric production facility, and Solihull will produce electric Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Jaguar models.
New EV testing facilities
The Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton will build Electric Drive Units (EDUs), and Castle Bromwich will be repurposed to make body panels for EVs. The new 30 000 square meter facility at JLR’s Whitley Engineering Centre in Coventry will be equipped to test EVs rapidly.
That includes electric test rigs and a series of extreme-weather climate chambers capable of simulating the harshest conditions – from -40°C to 55°C. More than 200 EV engineers are working at the facility today, and a further 150 vacancies will be created, the company says.
Three electric Jaguars
It’s all part of JLR’s £15 billion (€17,2 billion) investment to electrify its luxury brands over the next five years. For now, JLR only has the Jaguar i-Pace as a fully electric vehicle in its portfolio. But that model will retire before the new generation of electric Jaguars arrives in 2025.
Further details about Jaguar’s new start as an electric brand in 2025 started to trickle down last month. According to a portal report, the three models Jaguar plans, based on the new electric platform JEA (in an early stage named Panthera), will be a four-seater GT, a luxury SUV, and a large sedan.
The usually well-informed British car magazine Autocar reported that the prices for the three new electric models from Jaguar will start between £100 000 and £125 000 pounds (€116 000 to €145 000). They will all have four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and batteries that can be charged from 10 to 80% in 13 minutes.
The other two electric cars will follow at least one year apart. According to Autocar’s sources, Jaguar’s electric SUV will be about the size of a Bentley Bentayga, and the new e-sedan will be comparable in size to the Bentley Mulsanne.
What about Discovery?
Apart from scarce details about the new fully electric Range Rover announced to be available for preorder in ‘late 2023’ and released to the public in 2024, there is little more known about other EV models to expect.
A new smaller and electric variant of the rugged Defender is reportedly being prepared behind closed doors for release in 2027. Probably named ‘Defender Sport’, it will sit on the group’s 800V EMA platform.
The future of the Discovery, currently built at Nitra Slovenia next to the new Defender, is blurred. JLR struggles to position an EV-variant next to its three other group brands. According to British media, JLR has a difficult job finding a solid market niche for a reinvented Discovery, as today only 12 000 of them are built yearly as sales keep slowing down.