|Photos courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover|
While everyone's raving about the new Tesla Model X, few people took note of another important announcement in the quest to electrify SUVs: Jaguar Land Rover is working on several concept models that could one day lead to an electric off-road machine.
One concept has a mild hybrid powertrain. It uses brake energy to charge up a battery, which then supplies electricity for ancillary functions like the air conditioning, not moving the vehicle forward in any way. The hybrid module is located between the engine and transmission, making it a fairly compact design. Some are questioning why the automaker is even playing with a half measure, but they're forgetting it's a step in the right direction.
The second concept is a plug-in hybrid which actually uses electricity to turn the wheels. The electric motor is still placed between the engine and transmission, but the vehicle can drive using either a mixture of the gasoline engine and electric motor, or on only electricity for limited distances. This is a setup that's become increasingly common, such as the plug-in hybrid version of the new Volvo XC90.
Looking more toward the future is the third concept, which has a fully-electric powertrain. It's designed for the company's lightweight aluminum vehicle platform, which is being used successfully in several new models like the Jaguar XE. An electric motor is mated to each of the axles, meaning the vehicle is by default all-wheel drive.
Jaguar Land Rover is also playing with some other cool tech that would make better use of energy, including infrared panels strategically placed inside vehicles to help keep people warm and seats that can draw warm air through them to help everyone cool off during the summer.