The all-electric Jaguar I-PACE will be the towing and support vehicle for a UK-led programme aiming to claim the electric flight speed record later this year. The target for the electric flight record is 300+mph (483+km).
The Rolls-Royce ‘Spirit of Innovation’ team has already completed key ground-testing and taxiing ahead of the first test flights in a matter of months. The zero-emissions I-PACE will support the team throughout their attempt at the record.
The aircraft has been created by the ACCEL programme, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’. This includes key partners YASA, the Oxford-based electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.
Rob Watson, director OF Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover are UK pioneers who are focused on advancing electrical technology for their respective sectors.
“We are delighted that Jaguar Land Rover are loaning us I-PACE vehicles as we bid to develop the world’s fastest all-electric plane. It is important to us that the ACCEL programme was carbon neutral and this will be supported by having all-electric cars for ground support.”
The Spirit of Innovation features an electric motor propulsion system delivering 500-plus horsepower. This is thanks to the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft providing enough energy to fuel 250 homes or fly London to Paris on a single charge.
The I-PACE uses two electric motors producing a total of 394-horsepower. This power is delivered by a 90kWh battery featuring 432 pouch cells. Coincidentally, the electric I-PACE is capable of 292 miles (470km) on a single charge, which is exactly the distance by road from London to Paris.
Rawdon Glover, Jaguar Land Rover UK MD, said: “The I-PACE is a real pioneer. When it launched in 2018 it was the world’s first premium all-electric sports utility vehicle (SUV), establishing Jaguar as a leader in electrification and setting the brand on a path to become fully electric by 2025.
“We’re delighted to be supporting another Great British innovator with the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ team, as they look to bring electrified aviation into the nation’s psyche with this incredible 300mph record.”
The ACCEL project highlights Rolls-Royce’s commitment to ensuring new products will be compatible with net-zero operation by 2030, and all products will be compatible with net-zero by 2050.
Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from ACCEL and other electrification activities to bring a portfolio of electric and hybrid-electric products into the urban air mobility, commuter and more electric aircraft sectors.
Just as Spirit of Innovation will pave the way to a future of electrified flight, I-PACE is an all-electronic forerunner of Jaguar’s future. By the middle of the decade, Jaguar will have undergone a renaissance to emerge as a pure electric luxury brand.