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Jaguar wants to redefine the car

Wednesday, 4th September, 2019 4:42pm

Jaguar is not the car company one normally associates with ‘defining’ the car. Defining the sports car, sure — with the likes of the XK120 and E-Type, but defining what a car is or can be usually falls to the likes of Ford, Mini, Volkswagen, and arguably recently, Tesla.

Jaguar, though, now wants to redefine the car. Not in some nebulous manner, in the sense of creating a new car that makes us rethink what a car can do, but actually change the dictionary definition.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) - usually considered the gold standard for lexical definition - defines a ‘car’ in its online dictionary as: “a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use”.

Meanwhile, Oxford Dictionaries (not the OED, but yes, a series of respected dictionaries produced in Oxford) says that a car is: “A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people”.

Now, Jaguar - building as it is the current, much-lauded I-Pace electric crossover - reckons that’s not good enough. The premium car brand thinks that the dictionary definition of a car should be expanded and changed, to reflect the growth of, and move towards, electric vehicles.

David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee, said: “A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated. We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines towards more sustainable powertrains.”

So, Jag is now lobbying the OED to have the definition changed. To what, exactly? Well, that in part might be up to you.

Jaguar is encouraging car fans to lean into the issue on social media, using the hashtag #RedefineTheCar with suggestions on what the full and proper definition, encompassing electric powertrains too, should be.

Whether or not Jaguar is successful, it is struggling with the I-Pace right now in its key US market. Sales are currently as low as 200 units per month, far behind those of the rival Tesla Model X, which is shifting as many as 1,000 cars per month right now.

To try and combat that, Jaguar is introducing a specific discount on the I-Pace for Tesla owners looking to trade-in.

That discount amounts to $3,000. Combine that with a dealer discount of $5,000, and a $7,000 ‘allowance credit’ a Tesla owner can get as much as $15,000 off the price of an I-Pace.

The I-Pace is doing rather better in Europe. It’s been averaging 1,079 sales across Europe so far this year, following a best-ever month in December 2018 when 2,983 were sold.

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