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Jaguar's head-turning answer to the Tesla Model X might be just two years away

Rumors of an all-electric Jaguar became a lot more credible during the New York Auto Show.

“Within two years, we’ll have something that’s not driven by a petrol engine,” revealed Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director, in an interview on the sidelines of the show.

Callum joked that the model will be powered by “a couple of hamsters,” but Autoguide believes he was referring to Jaguar’s first-ever battery-powered model. Earlier reports claim the British car maker is preparing to jump into the hotly-contested premium electric vehicle segment with a plug-in crossover tentatively called E-Pace that will slot right below the new F-Pace.

Likely built in Graz, Austria, by Magna Steyr, the E-Pace will ride on the same aluminum-intensive platform as the XE and the aforementioned F-Pace. It will wear a sportier design that will borrow more than a few styling cues from the experimental C-X75 supercar that starred in the newest James Bond film. Power will allegedly be provided by four electric motors mounted inboard, an innovative setup that promises to further set the E-Pace apart from its rivals.

All told, Callum’s comments raise more questions than they answer. The designer hinted that Jaguar will drop more information about its upcoming non-gasoline-burning model before the end of the year, and he said the company even has a big surprise in store for its fans. In other words, we could get a thinly-veiled preview of Jaguar’s first EV at either the Paris Auto Show or the Los Angeles Auto Show. Jaguar rarely shows concepts that aren’t close to production, so what you’ll see by the end of the year is what you’ll get in showrooms in two years’ time.

Related: Jaguar says an entry-level hatchback is a definite maybe

British magazine Autocar reports the Jaguar E-Pace will go on sale in 2017 with a base price of about £60,000, a sum that converts to roughly $85,000. When it lands, it will fight head-to-head against the Tesla Model X. While Jaguar is remaining quiet, Callum’s remarks suggest the rumors aren’t entirely unfounded.