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Jaguar I-Pace Targets Tesla

img 869603001 1479170829739 jpg Jaguar I-PACE EV SUV Concept | photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show saw Jaguar enter the electric-car world courtesy of the I-Pace Concept. This car signals a watershed moment for the historic British automaker which, until just this year, didn’t even have an SUV in its lineup. Now, with a production version of the I-Pace Concept scheduled to arrive in 2018, Jaguar will soon have a rival to the Tesla Model X, not to mention electric-powered vehicles coming from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and other automakers with major EV plans.

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In our 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show Winners and Losers, the I-Pace Concept scored a unanimous thumbs-up. Some questions were raised about the sharply truncated tail end, however, along with the awkward I-Pace name itself. Yet when it comes to sheer technical appeal, this zero-emission Jaguar has few flaws to find. 

For starters, this thing could dust an F-Type. With a total output of 400 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque, Jaguar estimates the I-Pace Concept accelerates from zero-to-60 mph in only 4 seconds. As for driving range, expect something in the region of 200-300 miles by the time the I-Pace Concept officially goes on sale.

Interestingly, during a wildly futuristic media preview that included surround-view virtual reality goggles, Jaguar quoted a targeted range of 500 kilometers, or the equivalent of around 310 miles. Once we were done floating over California and “virtually” sitting inside the handsome cockpit of the I-Pace Concept, we noticed a very real-world discrepancy with the driving-range figures. On its own website, Jaguar only goes as far as stating the I-Pace Concept will “offer a range greater than 220 miles on a single charge.” Did anyone else catch this? We sure did.

Why should I care? Tesla might want to rethink its insistence on largely ignoring the auto show circuit. Jaguar brought one sleek, headline-grabbing electric car to what is basically the American automaker’s hometown show. Now, the I-Pace Concept isn’t perfect. For starters, it has a silly name, the driving range remains murky (though Jaguar has a couple of years of engineering time to clear it up) and the compact shape has some calling the I-Pace Concept more of a high-riding wagon than an SUV.

There is also no word on price, though you can bet the production model isn’t going to be cheap. Something in the region of $80,000 is a good guess given the market positioning of Jaguar’s own F-Pace SUV, plus this figure lands squarely on the Model X’s price.

Automakers are getting interested in EVs again. The caveat is that many of the electric concepts appearing at auto shows — and scheduled to arrive within two to four years — are SUVs, the biggest cash cows in the current car world.

The truth is, SUVs with EV powertrains help with upcoming EPA requirements (unless they’re rolled back during a Trump presidency), and they spell potential big profits down the road. 

Hyundai Hides in Plain Sight in L.A.

Hyundai played a game of hide and seek at the L.A. Auto Show. While other automakers made splashy debuts with bass-heavy tunes blaring in the background, the South Korean automaker quietly rolled out an autonomous driving version of its new Ioniq EV … and then let it sit there, virtually unnoticed, according to The Detroit News.

Unlike many self-drive prototypes, the Ioniq doesn’t look like a high school science project gone haywire. The exterior isn’t overloaded with bulky sensors or other technical hardware. The Ioniq EV’s suite of radar and laser-scanning equipment is hidden, making the car virtually indistinguishable from a standard model.

Why should I care? Hype hurts, no matter if you’re a car company or an NFL team. Hyundai might be onto something with this soft launch of a hugely important vehicle. The Ioniq is already clever in that a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric model are spun off the same basic car. Now Hyundai has snuck autonomous driving into the mix, too. Not creating too much of a splash allows the company to avoid the extra scrutiny that comes with big promises and extravagant claims.

Hyundai also used the L.A. show to announce a partnership with car-share upstart, WaiveCar. The company boasts an all-electric fleet, and the first two hours of driving time are free because the cars are basically rolling billboards, with digital ads broadcast on the roof of each car. After two hours, the fee is $5.99 per hour.

If your ego can take it, the program is a unique way to get around with minimal impact to your bank balance. You might not win many points for coolness, though at least you’ll be saving cash. For Hyundai, the partnership (initially limited to only Los Angeles) allows the company to spread the word about its new Ioniq EV.

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