Jaguar's Callum: 'Huge' opportunities with electric vehicles

"You have to move with the times."

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
Eventually, some brave innovator, with an imagination light years ahead of the rest of us mere mortals, will envision an automotive future that the rest of us can't conceive. This person will step up and tell us how electric vehicles have the potential to change our lives for the better. They'll have the guts to tell us that if we could only open our eyes, we'd see that there's a way to get from one place to another that doesn't pollute the air we breathe. They'll explain that it won't just be globally responsible, it'll be magnificent. Yes, the electric car needs a champion, a figurehead, someone so inspirational that comic book superheroes are modeled after him.

Finally, that champion has revealed himself.

Saying out loud what the enlightened few of us know but dare not utter for fear of ridicule, our hero has spoken. "Electrification will kickstart the biggest change in automotive design in history," Ian Callum, design director at Jaguar told Autocar.

That Jaguar sees the potential for electric vehicles is welcome progress.

Sarcasm aside, that Jaguar sees the potential for electric vehicles is welcome progress. Even more appealing is that Callum approaches the potential of EVs from a design angle, where the slate is essentially blank, he feels, and so much is possible. "The opportunities an electric powertrain offers are huge," Callum says, "especially in terms of the space for occupants. By removing so much of the mechanical hardware and placing the batteries in the floor plan you open up all sorts of possibilities with packaging."

To peer into Callum's mind when it comes to EV design would be extraordinary to behold. In many ways, his vision truly is something most of us cannot grasp completely, having spent a long career designing some of the most desirable cars of our time for some of the most prestigious automotive brands on the planet. So when he talks about the freedom EVs present from a design standpoint, it's not difficult to get excited.

A Jaguar EV isn't as far-fetched as it might seem at first.

Plus, a Jaguar EV isn't as far-fetched as it might seem at first, as Callum explains. "I'm clear in my mind that an electric Jaguar would be suitable for the brand," he says. "You have to move with the times and design for the opportunities. Look at the C-X75 concept – that was a car that was designed for an alternative powertrain, and nobody had any complaints about how that looked. It just so happened we later fitted a conventional powertrain in the car – but it was designed entirely around an electrified hybrid powertrain."

So what would Jaguar – or, more specifically, Ian Callum – do with the aforementioned freedom that EVs offer? "The question is whether you make the cars smaller, but with the same interior space, or keep the cars the same size and offer more space," he says, "or perhaps both." Again, the possibilities abound, and who knows what great valley separates the imaginings of the common enthusiast from the visions living within the mind of an accomplished designer.

While Jaguar is just a little late to be the brand to spearhead the idea of the luxury, performance EV, it's still relatively early in the electrification game. With Jaguar hinting that it will dip its toe (or perhaps make a big splash) into the world of EVs in the next few years, we might not have to wait too long to see the images racing around in Callum's head manifested. At the very least, Jaguar has a head start on Ferrari, which should mean just as much in the world of designing consumer cars as it does at the beginning of a grand prix.

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