JLR taps Chinese partner for electric Freelander revival

JLR is the latest in a growing list of Western automakers turning to Chinese companies for help in developing electric vehicles.

The British automaker on Wednesday announced a plan to develop a family of “mainstream” EVs under the Freelander name with Chery, the Chinese automaker which JLR already works with for production of gas-powered Jaguar, Range Rover, and Discovery vehicles in China.

The Freelander name was originally attached to a compact Land Rover crossover sold in the U.S. as the LR2. The nameplate was replaced last decade by the Discovery Sport name. Now it’s being revived as a brand for EVs.

To speed up development, the Freelander EVs will be based on an existing Chery platform. They will also be built at plants operated by CJLR, the decade-old 50:50 joint venture between JLR and Chery that builds JLR vehicles in China.

CJLR plant in Changshu, China – Photo via JLR

While the EVs will initially be sold in China, JLR said it plans to export them eventually. The U.S. is unlikely to be a target market given the steep tariffs placed on Chinese-made EVs here.

Details on timing and planned body styles weren’t mentioned in Wednesday’s announcement.

Audi and Volkswagen recently turned to respective Chinese automakers SAIC and Xpeng to develop EVs for China, and BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been working with Chinese partners for several years on EV development, via their respective Mini and Smart brands. Volvo and Polestar also use platforms from their Geely parent for EVs.

The path isn’t a one-way street. A joint venture between Stellantis and China’s Leapmotor this month started production of some Leapmotor EVs at a Stellantis plant in Europe to avoid new tariffs the European Union will place on Chinese-made EVs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *