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One of Jaguar’s highest profile models will be reborn as an electric car

The king is dead, long live the king. The Jaguar XJ, the British automaker’s flagship luxury sedan, is going out of production. But it will soon be reborn as an electric car. Jaguar claims the all-electric XJ will be the first of many new electric cars it will launch over the next few years.

The XJ is Jaguar’s rival to luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7 Series, with a heritage that spans five decades and eight generations. But Jaguar hasn’t updated the XJ for a long time, so the big cat has slipped behind its rivals in technology. The electric XJ could help Jaguar leapfrog those rivals, and take its electrification plans to the next level.

Jaguar and sibling brand Land Rover have vowed to add an all-electric or hybrid powertrain option to every model by 2020. So far, with the notable exception of the Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover, all of these new electrified models have been hybrids. A second all-electric model will make a bigger impact.

Announcement of the electric XJ comes as Jaguar and Land Rover ramp up production capacity for electric cars. In January, the conjoined automakers announced plans for a new “electric drive unit” factory in the United Kingdom. The Castle Bromwich factory that built the outgoing-generation XJ will also be converted to electric-car production, and a new battery-production facility will come online in 2020. Jaguar was eager to emphasize these investments in U.K. car manufacturing at a time when jobs in the industry are under threat from the planned “Brexit” split from the European Union.

Jaguar didn’t offer any details on the future electric XJ, or even state when the car will go into production. Jag did discuss plans for a new platform called Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), which is designed to support gasoline, diesel, hybrid, and all-electric cars. MLA, which will also underpin some future Land Rover models, could be used for the next XJ.

Jaguar’s decision to make the next XJ electric is likely a response to two factors. Stricter global emissions standards are forcing many automakers to adopt electrification. The U.K. is considering banning sales of new internal-combustion cars by 2040, for example. In addition, many luxury automakers are introducing electric cars in response to the success of Tesla. Jaguar needs to add more electric models of its own to keep up.

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