Jaguar and Williams to work on hybrid supercar for production

  • 23-May-2011 09:05 EDT

Jaguar C-X75 concept; in hybrid road-going form it will combine ultrahigh performance with sub 99 g/km CO2 emissions.

A top speed of more than 320 km/h (199 mph), 0-160 km/h (0-99 mph) in less than 6 s, and combined CO2 emissions of less than 99 g/km may sound fanciful, but those figures are Jaguar’s targets for the road-going version of its C-X75 hybrid concept.

Developed in partnership with Williams F1, it will have an F1-derived ultra-downsized (for a supercar, probably in the 1.6-L range) high-pressure-charged internal-combustion engine (ICE), two high-powered electric motors operating in parallel, all-wheel drive, composite brakes, active aerodynamics, and carbon-fiber body. It will be capable of at least 50 km (31 mi) of pure EV range.

Bob Joyce, Group Engineering Director of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), said the C-X75 would also have “clever” electronics and a “bundle of other technologies.” Only 250 will be built, with deliveries starting in late 2013 and completed 24 months later.

Though fuller details are expected to be released in September, the car will be priced from about £700,000 to £900,000, depending on individual specifications available via a Bespoke Buyer’s Package. But despite its raft of technologies, it will not be just a “halo” model, insisted Joyce. “Many of those technologies, such as control electronics, will flow down through our model ranges.”

Jaguar plans to spend more than £1 billion a year on product creation with very highly technical advanced products. Research will account for around £100 million a year. Joyce is comfortable about Jaguar—a relatively large industrial company with all that means in business and engineering structure—working with the tight-knit, totally focused, and rapidly reactive Williams team that can conceive and implement design changes in a couple of weeks between races. Teams of engineers and specialists from both companies are working together at an off-site facility, details of which remain secret.

Joyce believes the project and its results will be a response to today’s environmental and technological demands, with the link between the media, the need for infotainment, the pressure for low carbon solutions, and the efficiency of advanced hybrids changing automotive industry paradigms. “For the first time, technology, public need, and auto industry responsibility and capability are coming together.”

Key technology elements of the C-X75 are seen by Joyce as its advanced powertrain, active aerodynamics, and electronic controls—with the big overall challenge being systems integration. There are no output figures yet available for the ICE, but race-industry guesstimates for the F1 version are around 440 kW (590 hp).

The concept was shown at the Paris Motor Show last year and generated such positive public and critical response that a tentative plan was formed to investigate the possibility of putting the car into production.

That plan led to Williams F1 and its boss Sir Frank Williams, who said of the association: “Williams has always considered itself an engineering company, and so this project will allow us to combine our technical expertise to create something truly exceptional.”

Williams admitted to a certain emotional link with Jaguar, too: “When I was a schoolboy in the 1950s, I was taken for a ride in a Jaguar XK150S. It had 250 bhp and created for me an astonishing appreciation of Jaguar.”

Jaguar is being cautious in its comments on the use of gas-turbine technology for hybrid applications. The C-X75 concept was fitted with small gas turbines developed by Bladon, a company in which JLR’s parent organisation, Tata Motors, has a stake. Gas turbines will not be part of the C-X75’s configuration—at least, not in its initial form. However, they are likely to be used in the medium term in other models in a variety of applications.

Most examples of the production C-X75 will be built for road use, but a few will be specifically for track driving.

The lead time for the car is short because, although the development will follow all the usual milestones marking Jaguar’s established routes for its volume models, huge time savings will be made with no necessity to tool for volume production, no body-in-white stage, and with Williams’ rapid design, development, and management techniques applied.

When creating a new production model, Jaguar is used to working to finely defined targets, completing all engineering and reaching a definitive point when, as Joyce put it, “it's time for pencils down.” Through necessity, Williams has a highly flexible continuous development philosophy.

“F1 is about redefining what is possible and then implementing it at a speed that is ‘unthinkable,’" said Williams’ Chairman Adam Park. "For 30 years we have pioneered technology: composites, aerodynamics, mechanical systems, electronics, and, most recently, hybrid technology. This year in F1 we are the only team running its own KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) hybrid system. Now we are working on the introduction of a downsized turbocharged IC engine with large hybrid capacity and an ability to operate in pure electric mode in the pit lane.”

The C-X75 will be renamed for production, possibly with an XK designation and a number, which may reflect the engine’s bhp output.

A significant aspect of the C-X75 project is that it will generate more engineering posts at JLR, according to Dr. Ralf Speth, its CEO, saying that the company has hired more HR staff who will be able to hire more engineers. Carl-Peter Forster, Chief Operating Office and Managing Director of Tata Motors, added that he hoped the project would encourage more young people to consider engineering as a profession.

In November 2009, Williams Hybrid Power announced its participation in a mild-hybrid road-car program working with JLR, Ricardo, and other companies. The program was created to demonstrate the potential of flywheel-based hybrid systems with the ability to achieve 30% fuel savings and a similar reduction in CO2 emissions. Porsche's 911GT3 R hybrid racecar uses a system developed by Williams Hybrid Power and Williams F1.

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