Jaguar Land Rover has introduced a new concept vehicle that cuts a very different figure relative to its usual fare: It’s a four-wheeled electric urban mobility concept called “Project Vector” that looks more like a low-floored airport shuttle train car than a traditional car.
This is a look that has increasingly become popular among automakers designing for a future in which shared electric autonomous mobility plays a big role: Cruise, for instance, debuted a very similar-looking long rectangle of a vehicle in January, with the crucial difference that its vehicle is a production model instead of just a concept.
Externally, JLR’s Vector concept looks very similar, with a front and back end that could easily pass for one another, as well as sliding doors that open from the middle to allow the maximum amount of space for entry and exit. The floor is low to the ground to similarly accommodate easy onboarding and disembarkation, and that same floor houses the battery and drivetrain that make the vehicle go.
Unlike Cruise’s strictly driverless design, however, the Jaguar vehicle features front-facing seats and a steering wheel for human control, though the interior is also “configurable” to eventually allow autonomous use, and to also offer flexibility for accommodating goods delivery as well as passenger transportation.
Jaguar Land Rover’s concept isn’t just the kind to get your noodle churning, either: The company says that it aims to work together with the Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority to actually deploy a pilot mobility service using the Vector starting as early as “late 2021,” which it says will act as a “living laboratory for future mobility on the streets of Coventry.”
Most people probably don’t love the idea of hearing their streets will be made into a laboratory, but on the other hand, pioneering shared electric transportation that more closely resembles public transit than traditional ride-hailing is likely a good thing.