Jaguar Land Rover has given the go-ahead to production of an electric version of the E-Type sports car with first deliveries planned for the summer of 2020.
Jaguar Classic, a unit of the UK-based automaker which restores vintage Jaguar cars, will convert the vehicles to electric power at its Classic Works facility in Coventry, Jaguar Land Rover said Thursday.
The company gave no details on prices for the cars. The option of converting to an electric vehicle, which is also fully reversible, will be offered to existing E-Type owners.
JLR, which is owned by India's Tata Motors, is already building an electric vehicle called the I-PACE in Austria.
The car, which is officially called the Jaguar E-Type Zero, debuted in September 2017 but made the biggest splash in May when Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drove one after their royal wedding.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the Jaguar E-Type Zero concept,” says Tim Hannig, the director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic. Nearly 2 billion people watched the marital event. The response among Jaguar fans specifically is why the company will build an undisclosed (presumably small) number of them in 2020.
It joins a host of continuation-type cars — old cars brought up to modern standards — that have lately become significant moneymakers for heritage car brands the world over. Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Porsche have all begun remaking discontinued iconic cars with similar intent.
Hannig says that while the new car offers faster top speeds, more power, and better capability over thousands of miles driven, it is also astoundingly close to the original in terms of weight distribution and handling. Its electric motor lies behind a large battery pack situated in the middle of the car, where the gearbox used to be.
Many components, including the lithium ion batteries, were borrowed from the excellent, new, electric I-Pace that many people say will prove the most fearsome competitor to the Tesla Model X SUV.
Elsewhere in the new E-Type, a new propshaft with weight and dimensions similar to the outgoing gasoline engine and transmission mean that its suspension and brakes required almost any changes.
The car will drive and brake much as the original did. That one, produced from 1961 to 1975 and favored by the world’s biggest celebrities of those years, is widely considered to be one of history’s most beautiful cars. (Even Enzo Ferrari, who was notoriously stingy with praise, lauded its stunning good looks.)
It had a revolutionary top speed of 150 miles per hour and then-novel rack-and-pinion steering, plus independent front and rear suspensions that helped make it feel nimble to drive. It also boasted onboard disc brakes that were years ahead of anything produced at the time by Ferrari and Porsche. Last year, a rare example from 1963 sold for £6 million ($7.7 million).
In additional significant updates, a new touchscreen on the inside of this E-Type Zero and smart LED headlights on the front make the car drivable on a daily basis.
Jaguar engineers have said the new car’s range will reach 170 miles on one charge — a distance pushed along by the car’s feather weight (fewer than 3,000 pounds) and by its relatively sleek aerodynamics. A full refueling takes fewer than seven hours’ charging time on a standard outlet.
Painted in a bespoke bronze finish, the latest Jaguar E-Type Zero will be shown publicly Friday at the Quail Gathering in Carmel, Calif. Pricing has yet to be announced, though speculators have placed MSRP in the $500,000 range.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.