Rewind just a decade or so, and full-electric powertrains were far from abundant. So it’s a testament to the growth of the EV movement that, for the 2019 International Engine + Powertrain of the Year Awards, the judges’ scores were spread across no fewer than 17 powertrain setups. From the early stages of voting, two pure-electric designs dominated the scoring, with just four points between winner and runner-up.
Jaguar Land Rover’s full-electric powertrain, which sits at the heart of the I-Pace, narrowly edged out its rival from Tesla. The 400PS system features a liquid-cooled 90kWh Li-ion battery, which provides power to the EV’s two independent, synchronous permanent magnet electric motors and develops 696Nm of torque.
Many of the judges on the 2019 judging panel also commented on the significance of the winning powertrain coming from an OEM with an established ICE pedigree – rather than from a younger EV startup.
“A brand known for thumping V8s successfully goes electric,” said judge Nicol Louw from Car South Africa. “If this is the future of motoring, then please count me in!”
Not only has JLR edged out the ever-popular Tesla to clinch the 2019 Best Electric Powertrain category, but the I-Pace’s technology has also enabled it to see off competition from ICE rivals in other classes (see New Engine on p14 and 350PS to 450PS on p28) – due in no small part to an impressive driving range that is claimed to be as high as 470km (292 miles). Proof, if more were needed, that electric vehicles now have the performance (and the means to combat range anxiety) to compete directly with established combustion engine development.
The JLR all-electric powertrain boasts an “irresistible, easygoing, ‘plug-and-play’ feeling, whether driving at the limit or just cruising”, said Greek motor journalist Nikos Kounitis. “Combined with a decent battery range, it could easily convince even the most sceptical that an electric powertrain can be really fun to drive.”