Jaguar joins Williams to put C-X75 hybrid super-car on the road

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Jaguar is joining with Formula 1 team Williams to put a road-going version of its C-X75 concept into production. About 100 new skilled jobs will be created by the decision to build the £700,000 car.

The C-X75 first saw the light of day at last year's Paris Motor Show, where it wowed the crowds with its breath-taking looks. Jaguar Brand Director Adrian Hallmark, the man responsible for plotting the direction of one of Britain's most famous lines of cars says that “no other vehicles will better signify Jaguar's renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this.”

The new car will have a hybrid drive-train that combines an internal combustion engine with two electric motors, one for each axle, in a layout that provides four-wheel drive. It will be able to run in “electric only” mode for 50 km or more, and is expected to be good for 200 mph. It should be able to reach 60 mph from rest in less than three seconds and 100 mph in less than six, while Jaguar expects it to achieve 99g/km in official CO2 emissions tests.

The Williams link provides what Jaguar describes as “direct technology transfer from top-level motorsport”, and the F1 team is expected to concentrate on areas such as aerodynamics, carbon composite manufacture and hybrid technologies, all of which will play a vital role in allowing the C-X75 to achieve its ambitious performance goals. Williams has worked with major motor manufacturers before. Ford, Honda, BMW and Toyota have all supplied engines to the team in F1, and the company lent its name to sporty versions of Renault road cars in the Nineties. The link with Jaguar, though, seems to be much more like the partnership between Mercedes and Williams' F1 rivals McLaren that produced the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. And although it doesn't share the C-X75's lofty price bracket, McLaren's new “go-it-alone” super-car, the MP4-12C, is probably one of the alternatives that prospective owners of the new Jag will be looking at.

Williams, which dominated F1 for years has seen less success lately, so the Jaguar link may provide it with something of a fillip. However, the new relationship between the two companies seems unlikely to signal a return for Jaguar to the top flight of motor racing in the immediate future. Memories of its unsuccessful foray into the sport between 2000 and 2004 are still fairly fresh – and especially painful given that the former Jaguar team formed the basis of the now wildly successful Red Bull outfit.

The C-X75 will be the first Jaguar super-car since the XJ220, which was produced between 1992 and 1994 - and there are a number of parallels between the two projects. For both cars, Jaguar recruited outside help from motorsport experts, although in the case of the XJ220, it worked with Tom Walkinshaw Racing rather than Williams. The planned production levels for the C-X75 (250 units) are also similar to those achieved for the earlier car.

Production XJ220s had a 3.5 litre V6 and rear-wheel drive instead of the V12 and all-wheel drive set-up that were originally planned, changes that caused a certain amount of disappointment among prospective owners. The C-X75 has also experienced a drive-train “down-grade” on the road to production; one of the main talking points of the car shown in Paris last year were its small gas turbines, which now have been omitted from the version that customers will be able to buy. However, Jaguar's parent Tata has taken a stake in Bladon Jets, the manufacturer of the turbines in the 2010 show car, so these still appear to feature in the company's long-term plans – and the C-X75 seems to have plenty of innovative technology to be going on with anyway.

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