Jaguar revealed its sexy C-X16 “production concept” in Frankfurt this week, saying that the two-seat hybrid sports car offers not only a look at the future shape of Jaguars, but also at new advanced technologies that both aid its dynamic performance and its environmental friendliness.
The most notable of these is an electric “push-to-pass” button that gives the driver up to 10 seconds of electric boost, courtesy of a 300-volt battery that provides an extra 95 hp and doubly impressive 173 lb-ft of torque. This is on top of an already powerful 3.0-litre, supercharged V-6, a mill that makes 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.
Combined, this would give the sports car combined overall thrust of 475 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, an estimated 0-100 km/h time of 4.4 seconds, a 300 km/h top speed and perhaps, most dementedly, an 80-120 km/h passing time of a mere 2.1 seconds.
All this in a vehicle that offers overall gas fuel economy of 6.9 litres/100 km, or about that of a current hot hatch. In theory, it can travel in tailpipe-emissions free mode if you keep it under 80 km/h and “light throttle openings,” says Jaguar, although it doesn’t give a range for how long it can travel on battery power only when driven in granny mode.
Jaguar insists that this first two-seat sports car successor to the classic E-Type has not yet been approved for production. “If it were to go into production, it would have a target price of €60,000-80,000 [$81,000-$108,000], depending on powertrain choices,” said Jaguar’s global brand director, Adrian Hallmark.
This suggests that the performance hybrid system, integrated as it is with a ZF eight-speed automatic and steering-wheel-mounted “push-to-pass” button, could become an optional upgrade over a gas-only V-6, perhaps even a non-supercharged one, given that €20,000 is a big leap.
Shorter and wider than a Porsche 911, with a 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery mounted just behind the two seats, Hallmark said the C-X16 “is our vision for the Jaguar of the future.”
It could be a risky move for Jaguar if it does make it to market, playing in a relatively low-volume segment, with gaping big holes still unplugged in the Jaguar lineup, most pointedly an entry-luxe sedan and a luxury crossover of any size.
Like the larger and much more exotic million-dollar-plus C-X75 performance hybrid that was confirmed for production between 2013 and 2015, this could be a sneak peek at some future models to polish up its sporting street cred, before blasting the market with 40 new products over the next five years.
Offshore car makers plan Senate appearance
With some of their members long pointed at as egregious purveyors of too-high Canadian prices, Canada’s offshore-based auto makers are hoping to make their case before a Senate committee charged with looking into why prices for Canadian consumer goods have remained consistently higher than in the United States, even with the dollars largely at par over the past two years.
“We would hope to be invited by the Senate Committee to appear on this issue,” said David Adams, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC) lobby group that represents most non-Detroit auto makers. He stresses that prices or pricing strategies are never discussed at AIAMC meetings, as that would contravene the Competition Act.
“That said, obviously the fact that we have a 6.1 per cent tariff on imported vehicles coming into Canada versus a 2.5 per cent tariff on imported vehicles coming into the United States creates a price difference right off the bat of several hundred to potentially several thousand dollars on a vehicle,” he said. And the more expensive the vehicle, the more thousands this difference creates.
Other commentators have also pointed out that being a much smaller market than the U.S., Canada cannot obtain the same wholesale pricing from the manufacturer because of the volume difference, Adams noted. And a few off-the-record chats with various Canadian auto executives over the past few months suggest that some of them are as frustrated as consumers about this.
“As soon as the yen goes up, they want prices to go up, and it’s been going up like crazy,” said a senior Canadian executive this week. “Head office won’t sell us cars for anywhere near as low as they sell cars to the U.S.,” said another recently, because if they can’t make their profit targets by volume – as in the U.S. – they’ll raise them per unit.
The higher cost of doing business in Canada has also been cited by others as a reason for the price differential, said Adams, covering parameters such as higher taxes and bilingual manuals, warning labels and other costs.
Interestingly, the organization representing Detroit-based auto makers doesn’t expect to have anything to do with the U.S.-Canadian pricing Senate committee. It doesn’t expect to be called before the committee, nor request to be heard by it, said Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.
“It simply hasn't come up as an issue for the CVMA to address the matter with a collective voice,” he said recently. “At least not yet.”
Funny, I’ll bet there are many potential domestic car owners who wish it would become an issue. Perhaps after seeing examples like the U.S.-built Jeep Grand Cherokee start nearly eight grand higher in Canada than in the U.S. ($37,995 Canadian versus $30,215 U.S.), or more glaringly, a Kentucky-built Corvette that starts at 18 large more than in the U.S. ($67,135 Canadian versus $48,950 U.S.).
Yes, this doesn’t take incentives into account. But after billions of Canadian tax dollars went to save GM and Chrysler – in the U.S., at least, since their Canadian outfits did not file for protection – one would think this would be an issue on their radar screen.