Pushed by regulations, British automakers have big plans for electric vehicles

The British government in November 2021 announced aggressive electric-vehicle legislation: Beginning in 2022, all new home and business construction will have to be built with electric charging points installed. That means up to 145,000 new charging points per year.
Given that the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles in the United Kingdom will be banned beginning in 2030, mandating EV chargers will certainly help the forced march toward a battery future.

Considering that the high-end luxury and boutique British automakers want to sell as many cars as they can in North America, the all-EV movement in the U.K. has implications for luxury-cars buyers in Canada and the United States.

With that in mind, here’s what you expect to see in the next few years from across the pond.

Jaguar Land Rover

Buyers can already purchase the I-Pace, an EV hatchback that has been available on this continent since late 2018. While Jaguar is rolling out new versions of its conventionally powered XE sedan and F-Pace utility vehicle this year, the future is strictly battery powered for Jaguar as of 2025, with Land Rover to follow.

To help facilitate the conversion, the automaker announced a partnership with artificial-intelligence tech company NVIDIA to “jointly develop and deliver next-generation automated driving systems plus AI-enabled services and experiences for its customers.”

Also notable is that Jaguar Land Rover Canada’s president is Wolfgang Hoffman, the former Audi and Lamborghini executive, and he will be tasked with leading the move to EVs in the Canadian market.

Bentley

The maker of classic high-performance British luxury cars has developed what it calls its Five-In-Five plan, which will result in one new electric Bentley model for each of  the next five years, starting in 2025. All five will be designed and developed in the automaker’s facility in Crewe, England. To fund the EV switchover, Bentley is investing 2.5 billion pounds (about $3.25 billion CDN) at the site to transform it into what the automaker calls its Dream Factory.

Earlier this year, Bentley hosted a press event in Southern California to showcase its new Flying Spur Hybrid, which the automaker said ran purely on electric power about 30 per cent of the time. Bentley also offers a hybrid version of its massive Bentayga SUV, but both hybrids eventually will be replaced by full-on EVs.

Rolls-Royce

Another fabled British luxury car maker, Rolls-Royce is playing its future EV cards a little closer to its chest than rival Bentley at the moment. In February, the company confirmed it will build an EV at some point this decade. The automaker added, “It will be launched only when the time is right, and every element meets Rolls-Royce’s technical, aesthetic and performance standards.”

Rolls-Royce does have some EV experience, having built its 103EX concept car in 2016. A full-size luxury sedan with a proprietary electric powerplant, the 103EX was never intended for production. The car was shown around the world for three years.

Aston Martin

After a false start three years ago when the electric version of the Rapide sedan failed to come to fruition, Aston Martin has pushed its EV plans back to 2025. That’s when the company plans to build an electric sports car in England and a utility vehicle is slated for production the following year at a new manufacturing facility in Wales.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin will begin deliveries of its first plug-in hybrid — the mid-engine Valhalla supercar in 2024 — and by 2026 all of the company’s new models will have electrified options.

Aston Martin signed an agreement with British technology company Britishvolt to develop bespoke high-performance battery-cell technology. The goals of the alliance are faster charging times, great driving range and suitability for the racetrack.

McLaren

The supercar maker is taking a measured approach to the EV revolution. Last year, McLaren introduced its first plug-in hybrid, the Artura. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V-6 and a plug-in hybrid power unit, the Artura makes 670 horsepower, which is good enough to hit 200 km/h from a standing start in a mere eight seconds. As far as a battery-electric vehicle, though, McLaren has not yet announced specific plans.

Lotus

Another niche British automaker, Lotus dropped a bombshell in late March with the announcement that it would build what it calls “the world’s first all-electric Hyper SUV.” The Eletre was unveiled on live British TV on March 29. It’s the first of what Lotus promises will be three new EVs launched in the next four years.

According to Lotus, the Eletre will have a maximum range of 600 kilometres. According to business publication “Automotive News Europe,” Lotus will only produce electric cars by the late 2020s.

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