Jaguar, Land Rover to Go All-Aluminum
Tata Motors plans to build all future Jaguars and Land Rovers from aluminum, chairman Ratan Tata announced in the company’s recently released annual report. With that, the Mumbai, India-based automaker gave its clearest indication yet as to the direction it will take the two luxury brands since it purchased them from Ford last year.
Tata said the aluminum designs would result in “considerable savings in weight and reduction in CO2 emissions.” As part of its push for green design, Tata is also developing hybrid powertrains that it will introduce on future Jaguar and Land Rover models.
Tata Motors’ announcement is certainly welcome, if perhaps unexpected, news for the aluminum industry. Its parent company, the Tata Group, includes Tata Steel—the world’s sixth-largest steel company—which earlier this year sold off its last two remaining aluminum smelters.
In fact, Tata’s commitment to aluminum exceeds even what Ford earlier publicly committed to for the two brands. The Jaguar XE and XF will now join the XJ and XK as aluminum-bodied vehicles—as will the full range of Land Rover and Range Rover models.
2010 Jaguar XJ
Moreover, the 2010 XJ comes with new green credentials. Although the model’s bodyshell has been an aluminum monocoque for the past seven years, it now is constructed from 50 percent recycled aluminum—allowing the XJ to minimize its carbon footprint and create a potential savings of three tons of CO2 per vehicle compared to a bodyshell made entirely from new aluminum.
According to Tata, the XJ’s lightweight aluminum structure makes it over 300 lbs. lighter than a bodyshell made from steel. In fact, at between 3,800 and 4,300 lbs. (depending on the specific model), the new XJ is lighter even than its steel-bodied stablemate the XF—despite being six inches longer. Compared to the chief rivals in its class—principally the BMW 7 series and the Mercedes S-class—the new XJ is between 300 lbs. and 570 lbs. lighter, according to company officials.
The potential weight, emissions, and fuel savings from the upgrade to aluminum for the next generation of Land and Range Rovers—due out in 2012—are likely to be even more significant than for the Jaguar models.
The current Range Rover sports an integrated steel monocoque body, fortified by steel subframes with aluminum doors, front fenders, and hood. Going to the aluminum bodyshell would pare between 700 and 900 lbs. from the vehicle’s current weight. That would put its weight savings on a par with those notched by the first-generation aluminum-bodied Jaguar XJ—which dropped 40 percent of its body weight over the previous-generation steel-bodied XJ.
Removing up to 900 lbs. from the bodyweight would increase fuel economy by an estimated 15 percent—from 19 mpg highway to 22 mpg—which would move the Range Rover close to the top echelon of SUVs as ranked by fuel efficiency.