When Elon Musk's electric car company Tesla searched for a destination to build a factory outside the US, Indian cities were on its radar. With this in mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Musk in Silicon Valley, during his visit to the US in 2015, for luring investment to India. But Tesla opted to build its first offshore factory in Shanghai as China tweaked its local manufacturing norms exclusively for the electric car maker, exempting it from sharing profits or technology with the country.
But now an Indian carmaker poses challenge to Tesla's solo electric car ride in the premium SUV segment. It is Tata Motors-owned Jaguar's SUV crossover, I-Pace is the first to cross path with Model X of Tesla in the American and European electric car markets. I-Pace EV made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show on March 8 and is on sale now in the British market. Since then the car has been getting rave reviews and, maybe for the first time, a car of an Indian owner is being appreciated at international car forums.
YouTube channel CarWow took three all-electric SUVs--- Tesla's Model X 100D, Model X P100D and I-Pace--- on a drag race in which I-Pace excelled, on par with the Tesla cars. "On paper, the Jaguar is comparable to the Model X 100D, with 400 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds. The Model X 100D, on the other hand, features 525 hp and a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds. Finally, the big dog of the group, the Model X P100D, has 772 hp and a 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds," an analyst wrote in his review.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is struggling in its largest UK market because of weak demand and muted product cycle. It had negative cash flow of Rs 9,364 crore in the last financial year. After receiving flak from investors, the company announced last week that it would invest a minimum of 4.5 billion pound (Rs 40,519 crore) annually over the next three years. It looks to stay ahead of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi in the electric vehicles race and narrow the gap with entrenched German rivals in the traditional luxury car market, according to media reports.
Felix Brautigam, Chief Commercial Officer at Jaguar Land Rover, said after announcing last month's retail numbers: "For Jaguar, we've had very positive customer response and industry reviews about the innovative Jaguar I-PACE, our first battery electric vehicle. With deliveries starting this summer, we expect demand to be strong." After announcing its last financial year result a month back, the company said I-Pace places the company at the forefront of the electric revolution. "With All Wheel Drive stability and sports car agility, I PACE Concept inspires confident driving on all road surfaces and in all weather condition," it says.
A J.D. Power analyst said that Jaguar I-Pace is 'a real and legitimate competitor' to the Tesla Model X. With a starting price of $69,500 --- excluding the $995 destination charge -- Jaguar's first-ever EV is priced $10,000 less than the Tesla Model X 75D. The company has taken four years to build the car from the concept stage to the production version and it had been extensively testing the car and its design until the launch in March.
Tesla has been enjoying relative exclusivity in the premium EV SUV segment with Model X. The rivals in the segment--- Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and VW --- are expected to launch their models within the next 24 months. Until then, it will be a direct face-off between Tesla and Jaguar. It could be a game changer for its parent Tata Motors.