How has Kiwi opinion on EV technology changed since the launch of the Jaguar I-PACE? Nearly one year after its New Zealand arrival, we see whether the all-electric car has achieved what it set out to do.

Celebrated globally, the I-PACE has become Jaguar’s proudest success story. Created during a four-year EV innovation project, the Jaguar design team’s goal was a simple one – disrupt the motor industry with the first all-electric Jaguar.

With its unique aero dynamic lines and long-range 90kWh battery power, the design team have separated the car from anything Jaguar has produced before, putting it top of the pile as the front runner in the electric transport revolution. It serves up a combination of performance, range and luxury, all the while offering the practicality and versatility of a mid-sized SUV.

To what Ian Callum, director of Jaguar Design described as “the first big change in 100 years to the motor industry” the Jaguar team where quick to respond to the growing demand for electric vehicles, providing Jaguar New Zealand the opportunity the lead the EV conversation here locally.

Bursting into the NZ market in June 2019 shortly after the global launch in Los Angeles, the I-PACE beat many competitors to the table to provide to an all-electric luxury car worthy of numerous global accolades, including World Car of the Year, European Car of the Year, New Zealand Car of the Year and even German Car of the Year - no mean feat for a British marque.

With 46 pre-orders upon arrival, the largest month of sales of any in the competitor set, early demand for the car was high. Barriers to entry such as range were alleviated by the I-PACE’s 480km battery charge*, whereas accessibility to chargers has been supported by a government investment to provide rapid DC charging stations every 75kms across our state highway, nationwide. Feedback from customers also show that more are embracing the home and work charging stations to get the most out of their vehicle.

Now, nine months after its NZ launch, the I-PACE has become the most talked about model in the Jaguar range, with its effect on Kiwi attitude evident.

Steve Kenchington, Jaguar New Zealand managing director, explains the changes in consumer opinion towards the I-PACE, from time of launch to now.

“In the beginning there was a lot of range anxiety and fear around investing in an EV however over time this has shifted. Once a potential customer has spent time test driving the I-PACE these concerns are eliminated, leading to one of our highest test drive-to-sales conversation rates.”

“Winning New Zealand Car of the Year was a big moment because it meant we hadn’t just won over the technology and design critiques; we had won over the country.”

With market demand for EV cars in New Zealand increasing every day, the number of electric vehicles on New Zealand's roads has nearly tripled in the past two years. There are currently 19,838 registered electric vehicles, up from 6926 in February 2018. 

As more competitors enter the EV market with gusto, we have seen multiple brands have their say. Perhaps what has made the I-PACE stand out from the rest is the fact that it has been designed from a blank sheet to be purely an electric vehicle. While other brands have taken their current model and added a battery - leading to compromises in balance, centre of mass and design aesthetics - Jaguar designers have taken a different approach.

Jaguar New Zealand product manager Paul Ricketts puts it simply. “The I-PACE has shown Kiwis that when it comes to EVs a brand doesn’t have to compromise its values. The I-PACE is a true sports car and epitomizes the art of performance.”

“Jaguar power and dynamics with added zero tailpipe emissions – it’s everything you would expect from an all-electric performance SUV.”

And when the car has its very own all-electric race series – the Jaguar e-Trophy, you would expect nothing less. With Kiwi race driver Simon Evans behind the wheel along with other world class drivers, Jaguar has been able to take learnings from the track and apply them to the road. Already an extra 20km of ‘real-life’ driving range has been found through software enhancements using this format. Surely there will be more of that to come as Jaguar tests vehicles to its limits on racetracks around the globe.

There’s no doubt being the first mover in luxury electric vehicles and holding such a long list of international and local awards has had an impact on the New Zealand automotive landscape in terms of awareness and accessibility to EVs, as well as changing the perception of Jaguar. With more electric vehicles from Jaguar yet to come, the I-PACE has well and truly set the precedence.

And with a goal set to disrupt, the I-PACE in New Zealand has done just that.

Watch the I-PACE behind the scenes video here.

*Tested under WLTP (Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure), the new process that has been phased in from 2017, which measures fuel, energy consumption, range and emissions in passenger vehicles in Europe. This is designed to provide figures closer to real-world driving behaviour.