Michael van der Sande was appointed managing director of JLR Special Vehicle Operations in 2018, having previously held senior positions at Alpine, Renault, Aston Martin, Tesla, Harley-Davidson, Bentley and Nissan.
Here, he talks to us about how SVO sits within the wider JLR business, its main areas of operations and his excitement for the future as the firm moves to a more high-end position and the industry transitions towards electrification.
Can you explain Special Vehicle Operations for us?
“We tend to do the cool stuff that doesn't fit into a large, more volume-based manufacturing process and that really leverages the emotional connection between the customer and the car to do something even more special. We have four activities within that. The first one is our SV-badged cars, which are the high-performance and high-luxury Land Rovers and Jaguars, then there’s our vehicle personalisation business that basically does anything to add more content and value to an existing model, from accessories to armoured cars.
“Then there’s our classic division, where we restore cars and we buy and sell very high-quality examples of classic cars. We have more than 70 years of history in both brands, so there’s a lot of cars on the road that we try and support with parts, expertise, technical knowledge and so on. And we build continuation cars in very low volumes, like C- and D-Types, XKSS and so on.
“We’re a business within a business and we tend to look at the more niche, really high-end, really sporty, really off-road activities that you wouldn’t put through a mainstream development or manufacturing process.”