Monday, 17 December 2012

Passing fancy

Last Lexus LFA, Jaguar won’t make the C-X75. What’s happening? It’s the end of dreamland for supercars, that’s what. Let’s see how many Ferrari Enzos, McLaren P1s and Porsche 918s they sell if these go ahead. There’s nothing wrong with the cars and there are still people with half a million quid or so to buy them. We’ve seen it all before in difficult times, like the fuel crises of the 1970s when driving luxury gas guzzlers was embarrassing. It’s like managing directors turning up in limos to make half the workforce redundant. It’s a phase. The stupid 200mph things will come back.

Jaguar said it would not build the C-X75 supercar (right) because of, “global economic pressures.” And now Lexus has made the final 4.9litre V10 (below). Last week a white LFA with what was known as a Nürburgring Package left Motomachi, marking the end of production. Chief engineer, Haruhiko Tanahashi lamented, “I’ve lived and breathed supercars for the past decade, specifically the LFA. Very few people have the opportunity we had, to create a world-class supercar from a blank sheet of paper.” Some 170 hand-picked workers made about one car per working day for two years.

Jaguar said it would build 250 C-X75s, selling at £900,000 each, but, "After a thorough re-assessment of near-term market conditions, the company's view is that the global economic landscape does not currently support the introduction of a supercar.” Common sense really. Jaguar thought it might get away with it by adding a bit of greenery. Announced as a concept at the 2010 Paris auto show with four electric in-wheel motors, it had two micro turbine engines. The turbines were dropped and the car converted to being a plug-in hybrid, with a 1.6litre petrol engine. It still claimed over 200mph with a low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions below 99g/km. Maybe not all at the same time. Jaguar formed a partnership with Williams Formula 1 to develop a carbon fibre chassis, hybrid technology and aerodynamics to keep it from flying off.

Realism will out. Lexus says, “Learning from LFA engineering will directly influence new Lexus products. Production knowledge of carbon fibre components will be applied to future Lexus vehicles.” Adrian Hallmark of Jaguar said the technology showcased in the C-X75 wouldn't be dropped. "We have achieved an incredible amount and will continue to test and develop these technologies, which are highly relevant to Jaguar Land Rover's sustainable future".

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they.

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