Multi-million-dollar prototypes for sale?

RICHARD BLACKBURN
Last updated 07:10 01/04/2013

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Jaguar is considering selling prototypes of its stillborn hybrid supercar to a handful of collectors.

The company's global brand director, Adrian Hallmark, says six prototypes of the C-X75 were built and the company was toying with the idea of selling a couple of them.

The supercar, which combines a high-tech 1.6-litre turbo and supercharged engine putting out 373kw with an electric motor developing 400Nm of torque, would have sold for between US$1.2 million (NZ$1.43m) and US$1.5 million NZ$1.79m) if it had made it to market. The six prototypes would be worth much more.

"We may be able to sell one or two of those cars to collectors but there is about 780 volts under the bonnet and we are nervous because it's not productionised," he says.

Concerns about safety and the amount of proprietary technology involved could see just the shells sold, although Hallmark can't see a collector paying for a shell.

"I wouldn't buy it," he says.

Hallmark says that although the car has been canned in production form, components and systems from it will make their way into production Jaguars within five years.

The most likely candidate is the powerful electric motor, which is only 8cm thick and weighs just 23kg but puts out 400Nm.

"In a small car it would be phenomenal," he says.

Hallmark says battery technology remains the biggest barrier to electrification of vehicles.

But he says that an electric motor fed by a petrol-powered generator could provide the best solution to the problem of battery size and weight.

Hallmark drove a prototype recently and says he will "never say never" about the car one day entering production.

"I drove it two weeks ago for the first time in its full power form. I drove it with 650 horsepower in October and I drove it with 920 horsepower two weeks ago," he said.

"It did 162 mph (260 kmh) on the battery mode only and I bottled out at 196 (315 kmh) with the battery and the engine going on an internal test circuit.

"Forget the fact that its a hybrid supercar, it's just incredibly quick and capable and the noise it makes - 10 and a half thousand rpm [from a] four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 400Nm electric motor - you get a howl from the motor and a scream from the engine. It's the most bizarre, animalistic experience you can possibly imagine."

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