Currently reading: Jaguar designer Alister Whelan joins Chinese firm Nio
Whelan, responsible for the F-Type and F-Pace, becomes studio director alongside Seat's Joaquin Garcia

Chinese EV maker Nio has made two high-profile additions to its international design team, recruiting Alister Whelan from Jaguar Land Rover and Joaquin Garcia from Seat.

Whelan's departure from JLR is the latest in a series of important moves within the British firm's design department under CEO Thierry Bolloré. 

Around this time last year, Massimo Frascella became Land Rover design director as Gerry McGovern was promoted to chief creative officer for the wider JLR portfolio. More recently, Jaguar design director Julian Thomson left after more than 21 years of service, leaving Whelan as one of two remaining senior designers at the firm. 

It remains unclear who will replace Whelan in his role at JLR, where he was most recently in charge of interior design. His career at JLR spanned 21 years, during which time he was responsible for the design of such pivotal models as the Jaguar F-Type and Jaguar F-Pace, as well as the interior of the Jaguar I-Pace EV. 

Whelan will become a studio director for Nio alongside Garcia, who joins after five years leading exterior design for all production and show cars for Seat and Cupra. Other studio directors at Nio include Colin Phipps, previously of General Motors, and Andreas Nilsson, who joined from rival firm Geely. 

The pair will report to vice-president of design, Kris Tomasson, who said: "For Nio to attract the calibre, creativity and reputation that both Alister and Joaquin enjoy gives me immense satisfaction at just how far we have come in a very short space of time.

"Both bring unsurpassed levels of senior experience and together with our established studio directors will provide the leadership to deliver on our promise for an exceptional user experience.”

The growth of Nio's senior design team is part of a rapid expansion that has seen the company go from Chinese market launch to selling cars in Germany in just three years. A UK launch remains likely, but the company has yet to give a date. Meanwhile, the ES8 SUV is on sale in Europe already, with the ET7 saloon due next year.

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Citytiger 4 October 2021

Thye best thing Tata could do is off load Jaguar because they clearly havent got a clue what to do with it. Such a fantastic heritage and it struggles to produce anything worth buying. 

peetee 5 October 2021

Tata off load JLR !


They have been trying to do that, outright sale, IPO, all have failed. Autocar trailed stories years ago about the companies that have shown an interest in tying up with JLR, remember the stories about PSA ? 

Range Rover is still a badge but that is about all.

No EVs, other than the off shored iPace, which is a failure and nothing new being trailed.  


Bimfan 4 October 2021

Oh dear, Jaguar are in such a deep hole, despite Autocar's cheerleading from the sidelines. Their best people of the last 15 years are leaving fast and Bollore hasn't come up with any coherent plan for the future. 

The thing for me is that when Jaguar get it right they overprice the product or build it poorly and expect the customer and dealers to complete the prototype test work. When they don't get it right, they slash prices and throw in equipment to improve sales, which leads to early and massive depreciation. It's no way to run a car business profitably or build a faithful customer base

Hughbl 4 October 2021

Land Rover have been much better at interior and exterior design than Jaguar over the past decade, so I doubt the loss of Jaguar folk is seen as a major loss.