News : Aluminium-intensive XE to be most fuel-efficient Jaguar ever

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jaguar XE - Beneath the Skin Part 2

The innovative new Jaguar XE redefines the standard in its segment. Designed around Jaguar’s modular vehicle architecture, the XE is the only car in the class to use an aluminium-intensive monocoque, with lightweight aluminium accounting for 75 per cent of the structure.

This milestone in body engineering, a product of Jaguar’s world-leading expertise in high-volume production of aluminium vehicles, ensures that the Jaguar XE combines outstanding design with benchmark levels of ride and handling – it will be the true driver’s car in the segment.

Lightweight construction is a core element of Jaguar’s DNA and Jaguar is at the cutting-edge of aluminium technology in the automotive industry. The Jaguar XJ, XK and F-Type have all been developed using exceptionally stiff bonded and riveted aluminium structures: now the XE becomes the latest model to use this aerospace-inspired technology.

The weight reduction realised ensures that the XE is the most fuel-efficient Jaguar yet with fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on the NEDC combined cycle of over 75mpg and less than 100g/km respectively.

Dr Mark White, Jaguar’s Chief Technical Specialist; Body Complete, said: “The Jaguar XE body uses over 75% aluminium content, which far exceeds any other car in its class. This gives us a body structure with unrivalled low weight: it’s light but also immensely strong with extremely high levels of torsional stiffness. We’ve made sure our aluminium-intensive body structure exceeds all global safety standards without compromising on vehicle design or refinement.”

The Jaguar XE’s aluminium-intensive body is beautiful to look at, but the structure also delivers exceptional torsional stiffness. The light but strong architecture incorporates highly advanced suspension systems delivering unparalleled levels of ride quality, handling and steering.

The Jaguar XE is also the first car in the world make use of a new grade of high strength aluminium called RC 5754 which has been developed specifically for the XE. This new alloy features a high level of recycled material and makes a significant contribution to Jaguar’s goal of using 75 per cent recycled material by 2020.

Designed and engineered in the UK, the XE will be the first Jaguar to be manufactured at a new purpose-built production facility at the company’s Solihull plant in the West Midlands in the UK.

The world premiere of the new Jaguar XE will be held in London on 8th September but any AROnline readers wishing to know more about the car’s ride and handling can do so by watching the video entitled Jaguar XE: Ride and Handling explained below.

Clive Goldthorp

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

24 Comments

  1. The real question is, if the total energy consumption of the car over its lifetime will be significantly reduced by the use of an all-alloy body. The production of aluminium is much more energy intensive than the production of steel. But how much of the total energy needed to buid this car does this difference acount for? What mileage is needed to offset this difference?

    The weight difference between a V6 Diesel XJ and a V6 Diesel S-Class is about 180kg – in other words about 10% of the car’s weight (unladen). The reduction of fuel use during the typical use of such cars as motorway cruiser will be only a small fraction of these 10%.

    So is there a real world gain in making all aluminium bodies apart from having a nice selling point?

  2. Having seen first hand the way Audi has mastered welding and bonding together aluminium with various grade of high tensile steel, I’d say the advantage is probably one of mere marketing now. But that’s half the battle these days.

  3. There may be an advantage in the ease of recycling aluminium. On the other hand, insurance might be more expensive due to the cost/difficulty of some crash repairs.

  4. Aluminium is a very good material for the people who will repair such cars after an accident. There was a German magazin which made a crash with an Audi A8 and an Audi A6. They destroyed the same part of that two cars and the costs for repairing were very different. The cost for the A6 were about 1300 Pounds and the costs for repairing the A8 were about 3200 Pounds.
    The lower fuel consumption on a car wich is built out of aluminium (wich will be much more expensive compaired to a car which is made out of steel) will be ok if you will drive about 380000 Miles. If you will throw the car away before you drove the 380000 Miles it would be more energy efficient if you drive a car which is made out of steel which needs about 10 percent more fuel!
    Sorry!
    PS.: Steel is much easier to recycle as Aluminium!
    You were not able to make a new wing or new bonnet with the material of an old wing or bonnet! The best you could make with a recyled wing is an alloy wheel! Sorry!

    • I suspect you have alloy wheels on your car though.
      Alloy wheels usually weigh more than the equivalent steel wheels but oddly enough they are everywhere.

      Whilst your points may have validity, it is a bit disingenuous to imply “oh it’s only 10% and therefore a waste of effort”.

      As said it does have positive effects, in contrast to the use of aluminium alloy for wheels, which is done purely for cosmetic reasons.

      I think you’ll find it has been done for a couple of reasons, one, it’s a good marketing wheeze and, two, 100-200 kilos off the kerb weight means lower emissions and lower road tax for the customer.

      Until the total energy balance of the materials used to make a vehicle is factored into the Euro emissions standards, it will remain attractive to luxury motor manufacturers to use energy intensive lightweight materials to build vehicles.

  5. If we have to suffer these ridiculous monster vehicles like the Q8, Cayenne, X5 etc etc on our roads, surely it’s better that they weigh as little as possible.
    It’s not just the potential fuel saving that counts here, lightweight design has a positive effect on brake wear, braking distances, handling (response)i.e. inertia, tyre wear and pedestrian/general road safety.

    That 10% saving could mean the difference between stopping and not stopping there is lower brake wear, the suspension components can be downsized (saving more materials and weight), handling is automatically improved without having to spend as long fiddling with the programing ESP control modules and getting the damper and spring/roll bar settings right.

    I’m not saying that modern aluminium is so much better than modern high-grade steels but these vehicles need to pared down as much as possible given the how wasteful it is to produce them in the first place.

  6. This car could be a real breakthrough for Jaguar: a car that offers the traditional values of performance and refinement, but with the running costs of a Toyota Aygo. Jaguar really need to take the fight to the Germans and promote the XE constantly. The XF has proven to be an excellent car and the XE should be even better.

  7. @Oliver – Alloy wheels or engine blocks or cylinder heads or gearbox casings or suspension components or the thousands of other parts on cars or used elsewhere in engineering………Sorry

  8. @Glen A – The XF got the styling, packaging and details right but underneath was still a Ford derived S-Type and behind the curve technically. On the face of it the XE takes all that is right about the XF and underpins it with platform and engine technology ahead of what the competition is offering. If this is the case and JLR can build them quickly enough it should be a real game changer for Jaguar.

  9. I saw a heavily disguised test car in Harrogate a couple of weeks ago. It was finished in matt black with the usual white swirls to hide the details, with the jaguar badge on the radiator blacked out as well. As it stopped at the traffic lights I got just enough time to notice the scoop lines on the bonnet, very deep and impressive, and the general appearance was a perfectly proportioned vehicle. If I win the lottery…

  10. The XE deserves to thrash BMW and this could be Jaguar’s biggest success since the XJ was launched in 1968.

  11. If alloy wheels are heavier than steel, why did the D-type use alloy?

    I note that the Lotus Elan always had steel wheels, even in the optional knock-off version (single cente nut)

  12. Hang on, didn’t Audi have to use some complex welding techniques? JLR uses rivet bonding technology that was around since the last part of the second world war – effectively reduxing and riveting (albeit with robots). I’m pretty sure body repair is much simpler with the rivet-bonding process than it is with the complex welding that Audi used – I would also like to point out that the process make the vehicle stiffer (just like an aircraft)

    The other point is that the new aluminium grade has had a high degree of recycling in it so those calculations made earlier in this thread would need to be re-done to take into account the characteristics of this new grade.

    Please also note that this body is incredibly stiff – very, very stiff. Something not achievable with today’s HSLA steels, for the equivalent weight of the vehicle.

    It looks like that JLR ally technology is advancing further, they are thinking out of the box, and most definitely not resting on their laurels.

    • Using alloy and riveting does not automatically create a stiffer or stronger body than using steel or welding.

      The rivets are a proven way to create strong connections, but they are not significantly stronger than spot welding. The addition of modern glue does help here. But as said, welding of alloy is a rather difficult task, riveted panels will be much easier to replace in case of accidents.

      Regarding the stiffness: typical Aluminium has about 1/3 of the weight of steel, but also just about 1/3 of the stiffness. So naturally an Aluminium body is not stiffer than a steel one.

      To achieve good results a specific design is needed, something Jaguar has proven to be capable of.

      • Duralumin or whatever is used in this case is stiffer than steel, it’s a fact. Steel has “give” in it but to get the required levels of strength and stiffness aluminium alloys have significantly less “give”.
        This is the reason why modern alloy bike frames are much less “comfortable” than old steel ones. It is also the reason why a number of friends of mine have experienced handlebar failure, because aluminium just snaps, it doesn’t weaken and warn you, it just gives way.

  13. “would also like to point out that the process make the vehicle *stiffer* (just like an aircraft)”

    stiffer is the wrong word, it should have been ‘stronger’

  14. I consider the true reason for aluminium over steel is simply this, the lighter the car the easier it will be to pass emmisions and present and future fuel consumption standards

  15. real work, ie forward motion, would it be more accurate to describe this car as the least fuel-inefficient Jaguar?

  16. I run the precursor to these cars, an XJ6 3 litre petrol of 2003. Over 2535 miles on holiday to Germany, the car did 28.7 mpg. The only problem I have had with the aluminium body shell is crevice corrosion. This affected early cars but was more or less sorted out by 2009, when the cars ceased production. The car is large, larger than the old 1980 XJ6 Series 3 I once owned, but feels and handles like a much smaller and lighter car on the road, as it should, it IS lighter. I shall certainly be interested in the XE when there are a few used ones around and see myself kepping faith with petrol

  17. There are blogs around (the US XF Forum springs to mind), discussing why the aluminium F-Type is so heavy. Some are suggesting (and I am no expert) that the F-Type is basically a cut down XK and is not state-of-the-art — far from it.

    I hope the XE will be Jaguar’s way of proving that they are world leaders and product the lightest, strongest saloon. I hope that’s what they mean by Advanced Modular Architecture or whatever they’re calling it — that they have a world-beating platform to build a whole range of cars on.

    Anyway, if those are the sales differentiators, we should not expect it to fight it out at the 3 Series/A4 entry level. It’ll be too expensive to make for that to be profitable.

    Fingers crossed.

    • JLR are using an advance modular adaptable platform for a large majority of their cars and are still probably using the XK suspension (that’s going to be a heavy weight problem). I still think steel has a very long future in the industry though. There’s still lots of experimentation going on as to what types of alloy mixes work well to perform specific jobs.

  18. Provided the quality is there, I don’t doubt the XE will be a success, as I think people are fed up with BMW 3s, Merc Cs, Audi A4s etc. It is the Germans who are in a rut now, not the Brits !

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