Intelligent Energy

Jaguar's green flash

Posting in Design

Britain's, er, India's luxury car maker Jaguar commits to a hybrid sports car, and teams up with Formula 1 stalwart Williams F1 to get from zero to 60 in 3 seconds.

Jaguar has become the latest high end carmaker to throw its hat in the low emissions ring, as it made it official: it will build a hybrid gasoline/electric sports car that will exceed speeds of 200 mph and accelerate from zero to 60 in less than 3 seconds.

At a London press conference this morning, Jaguar claimed the C-X75 will have a range of 50 kilometers (31 miles) in electric mode, and will emit less than 99 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The company introduced the C-X75 as a “concept car” at the Paris Motor Show last October, but did not publicly commit to building it until today.

"The C-X75 received an incredible reception as a concept car,” said Jaguar brand director Adrian Hallmark, in a press release. “We've been building on that momentum and there is a clear business case for this exclusive halo model. No other vehicle will better signify Jaguar's renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this."

Jaguar, which is now owned by India’s Tata Motors and is part of that company’s Jaguar Land Rover group, describes the C-X75 as “an exclusive hybrid supercar”. No British understatement there, but plenty of truth in the “exclusive” part, as Jaguar said the car will sell for between £700,000 and £900,000 ($1.2 million and $1.5 million, but that includes delivery!), and that the company will only make 250 of them over a two-year span beginning in late 2013.

It is working with British Formula 1 race car team and constructors Williams F1, who will help build and design the car’s aerodynamics, carbon composites and hybrid technologies.

The car will include one internal combustion engine plus two electric motors – one on each axle. It will not include the two “micro-turbines” – or jets - built into the Paris concept car. Hallmark said that Jaguar is continuing to develop those for future models. Parent company Tata owns a stake in UK-based manufacturer Bladon Jets, which makes micro turbines powered by LPG, biofuels and other fuels.

The C-X75 will have a carbon fiber chassis.

Tata, which acquired Jaguar from Ford in 2008, recently said it is ploughing £5 billion ($8.3 billion) into Jaguar Land Rover, as it tackles competition on the high end against the likes of BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Audi. On the low end, Tata makes the sub-$3,000 Nano.

The C-X75 announcement comes about 2 months after luxury brand Rolls Royce - another former British manufacturer – said it will build an experimental electric version of its luxury Phantom car. Rolls Royce, owned by Germany’s BMW, has not committed to building commercial models of the electric vehicle.

The Jaguar-Williams hook-up should help advance the state of hybrid car technology, which in turn should be good news for reducing automobile emissions. The competition among automakers to out-green each other with hybrid and electric models will continue to make impressive, iterative improvements. What will really help drive the story along is the emergence of more renewable power stations to feed electricity to the cars’ batteries.

Note: This story has been updated with additional information about the vehicle's powerplant.

Photo: Motorpix

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure