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Why Jaguar killed the all-new electric XJ

Tyler Heatley

16 Feb 2021

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Yesterday Jaguar made some big announcements about its future and how it will become a purely electric car manufacturer by 2025. This news also marked the final blow of the all-new Jaguar XJ as the project has been cancelled.

At this very moment in time, Jaguar Land Rover has a very strong model lineup that is sure to have the German big three worried. The refreshed XE, XF and F-Pace represent what Jag can do when focusing its efforts, while the new Defender and Range Rovers are selling strongly. However, the British marque made a bold announcement yesterday that it would be a pure EV manufacturer by 2025, meaning that some models would be culled. One such car caught in the crossfire is the all-new Jaguar XJ.

Jaguar Land Rover’s new CEO, Thierry Bolloré, announced that this change in direction would see new EV-specific platforms introduced for each brand. This morning several quotes have emerged that confirm that the imminent arrival of the new XJ does not fit in with these plans and that the practically finished car is destined to become a stillborn project.

Motoring website Autoblog quizzed Jaguar officials on the subject and receive this response: “Following a thorough technology review against the exponential change in the automotive industry, we concluded that the planned XJ replacement does not fit with our vision for a re-imagined Jaguar brand.”

What was the all-new Jaguar XJ?

The XJ is one of Jaguar’s most historic nameplates that has a history spanning over fifty years. In that time is established itself as the most sporting of luxury limousines, with many world leaders favouring an armoured version of this sleek model. In 2019 production of the Jaguar XJ came to an end after five decades and many generations. A bit like the classic Land Rover Defender, the XJ had become a staple of British car culture.

An all-new car was promised and indeed teased at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show – a closeup of the tailgate and lighting signatures. A new modern design language was previewed via the rather sculpted teaser shot, one that incorporated a singular light bar and raised Jaguar text.

This new XJ would have directly replaced its predecessor, being a four-door saloon, potentially offered with petrol and diesel power, but with a big focus on a pure EV model.

How close was the new Jaguar XJ to production?

We were expecting to see the new Jaguar XJ revealed last year, but 2020 was a turbulent year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jaguar were reconsidering the XJ. It would appear that a decision was also made for the new XJ to be sold as an EV model only and that it would represent something of a modern flagship for Jaguar.

We witnessed firsthand test mules being driven on British roads on many occasions close to the Gaydon factory. Many pictures of the new XJ EV winter testing also suggest that the project was in its advanced stages of development.

It was seemingly certain that Jaguar would launch its next-generation all-electric EV in 2021. It would have taken on rivals such as the Porsche Taycan.

Why was the all-electric Jaguar XJ cancelled?

If the car was practically ready to go, and the XJ was set to be an EV, why kill the project? It comes down to Jaguar’s new bespoke EV platform, something the new XJ was not developed on. After some tough years financially, Jaguar can boost its economies of scale by getting all of its up and coming electric models onto a single architecture. The XJ’s Modular Longitudinal Architecture is not part of future plans, meaning that for the reborn model to become a reality, it would need its own dedicated construction verses the rest of the range.

Allowing the new Jaguar XJ to exist on its own platform was a possibility, but it would have severely dented its profitability. Also factor in that SUVs are rapidly eating away at saloon car popularity, something that impacted on the last XJ model.

From pioneering a new direction to having the deck stacked against it, the decision was made to kill the new XJ. A last quote from Autoblog highlights the final nail in the XJ’s coffin. “We have made the tough decision that it will not form part of the lineup, as the brand looks to realise its unique potential.’

What will happen to the Jaguar XJ

We’d expect Jaguar to try and repurpose as much of the technology and design in its next series of cars. A lot of money was spent on the XJ project, and so it’s only sensible to try and rescue as much R&D as possible.

We’re sure that Jaguar will save a couple of prototype vehicles for posterity, adding to its incredible historic collection of cars. The EV would join other canned prototypes such as the then new XK sports car that ultimately became Aston martin’s DB7. However, the loss of the XJ is still pretty raw, so we don’t expect Jag to immediately start touting what an amazing car it was going to be. That said, expect nostalgic ‘what could have been’ articles to surface over the next decade.

As for the XJ nameplate, we’d be very surprised if that never resurfaced. There was speculation that it could be ported to a new large luxury SUV to be more in keeping with customer trends, something that seems plausible. There’s too much value in the name for it to be surrendered to the pages of history, so we’ll be keeping a keen eye on Jaguar’s future plans.

Tyler Heatley

16 Feb 2021

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