No production hell at Jaguar’s I-Pace. “All peaceful,” insider says

Trundling peacefully down the line in Graz, Austria, on pace for a timely launch: The Jaguar I-Pace

Concerned that Elon Musk’s production hell might be contagious, and that it could be spreading to other EV manufacturers, I checked-in with a knowledgeable contact close to Jaguar’s I-Pace program. Jaguar’s I-Pace is an upcoming premium-EV that is already sold out months before its arrival sometime in 2018, and according to its father, Wolfgang Ziebart, the I-Pace is a “Tesla-beater.” Might the I-Pace also be delayed somewhere at the bottom of a stepped exponential S-curve, I asked.

“In Graz, the I-Paces are peacefully rolling off the line, together with the E-Pace,” my very well-informed contact answered.

Graz in Austria is where contract manufacturer Magna Steyr is. The I and E Paces were outsourced to Magna, because Jaguar Land Rover’s UK plants are bursting at the seams. The E-Pace is another impending Jaguar, a slightly smaller SUV than JLR’s F-Pace.

The I and E-Paces should go on sale next year, so what are they doing peacefully trundling off a manufacturing line in Austria? JLR does what every automaker does, every one except for Tesla: JLR runs a pre-production series for many months, and it does so until what is coming out at the end of the line is absolutely perfect.

Wolfgang Ziebart, caught in Taipei. (c) Bertel Schmitt

The cars made during pre-production aren’t sold. They are studied very carefully, and then they are destroyed.

Why? Ziebart had explained that to me months ago:

“O.K., so you finally have that new car with all the bits it is supposed to be produced with. You also have something else: Some 3,000 minor quibbles, all in themselves no show stoppers, but in total, it’s not the quality a customer demands. For a truly refined car, you must work through these 3,000 nitpickings. And finally, you also need to be able to replicate it on a production line, which runs at one car every two minutes.”

Mind you, in Graz, the I and E Paces are made on a well-designed and very flexible line. According to our research, confirmed by many other media outlets (here is a good one) the production line is still being built. A pre-production phase usually takes six months and more. Getting a new line up to speed can take a year or more, especially with unfamiliar personnel.

The way things stand, the Jaguar I-Pace may be at dealers before Tesla’s Model 3 finally is being produced in appreciable quantities.

“You can spend the time in preparation, or you can waste it doing costly re-work,” the insider said.