It's unclear if the luxury car was all electric or a plug-in hybrid, but spy photos of a new Jaguar XE prototype indicates that the British automaker is seeking to step up its effort to fuel its vehicles with electricity and better compete with Germany's big three.
There's a curious "E" emblem tacked onto the rear of the XE that was snapped while the vehicle was being tested in Spain. However, the vehicle wasn't painted in Jaguar Land Rover's oddly expressive "camouflage."
While not dressed in wacky paint itself, the latest XE prototype was accompanied by camouflaged XF and F-Pace prototypes.
There's some speculation that the E refers to the fuel economy of a diesel engine, while others suggest that the prototype could be all electric. But with Jaguar Land Rover testing out hybrid versions of its Range Rovers and Ranger Rover Sports a year and a half earlier, the evidence appears to point at an XE that isn't completely electric.
A check of the Range Rover Sport hybrid's license plates, conducted by Carscoops, listed the vehicles as being solely diesel-powered. That muddled classification gives weight to the speculation that the XE prototype may merely be a diesel-powered car.
The move to an all-electric vehicle may be a bit of a jump for Jaguar Land Rover. But moving deeper into hybrid territory is more of a transitional step to helping the company keep pace with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
Though it doesn't appear that the XE prototype was fully electric, there have been reports indicating that Jaguar Land Rover is working on a fully-electric powertrain and could be looking at introducing it in the F-Pace crossover. The automaker is also rumored to be developing a fully-electric Range Rover.
Jaguar Land Rover continues to reiterate its aspirations to move deeper in the hybrid market and tease clues about its work on electric vehicles. Wolfgang Ziebart, group engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover, recently stated that he believed hybrid drives will eventually dominate the market for the upper tier of vehicles.
"I cannot say too much but we are observing the market [electric vehicles] carefully," said Ziebart. "There is a market that is much more relevant to us as the second or third vehicle in the family, and it makes sense to have an alternative drivetrain or electric car to complement the first car in the family."