“Our aim must be to blow the opposition away. Jaguar’s 3-series rival will be the only car in the class with all-aluminium technology, which makes it very special. Combine that with our new electronics and our innovative engine range, developed in-house, and you have huge potential. There is a lot to do, but this can be a great car.”
What is the priority?
“I can think of three. First, we have to take the lead in the aspects of design that move fastest: driver assistance, telematics, fuel and weight saving, stuff like that. Next, we have to refine the way we do our cars, making sure, for instance, that we have one electrical system, not many different systems. Third, we have to organise our product development into specialist teams so we don’t finish up with five different tailgate systems across the company instead of one. We need a tailgate team. Such things bring big rewards.”
Are you pleased with reaction to the C-X17?
“It’s been overwhelming. Jaguar design is very specific compared with other companies I have known. One styling project I saw at another company involved 50 separate models. They had to use an aircraft hangar to display them all properly. But [Jaguar design director] Ian Callum and his team bring just two models — usually a good one and a better one. Then the better one is further refined, and that becomes the car. To me, Ian is a wonderful designer. He finds the heart of Jaguar right from the first.”
What do BMW people think of Jaguar?
“More and more, they take us very seriously. In former times, Jaguar was viewed as a small entity with no future, but nowadays they watch us carefully because they can see we are going places.”
You worked here 12 years ago on the Rover turnaround. Have things changed here?
“Things have changed enormously. Twelve years ago, Rover’s competence at building cars was very limited. Honda seemed to have been doing all the difficult stuff. We realised there wasn’t much at Rover to turn around. Now, the competence is vastly better; it is on the same level as any good premium car manufacturer. Great work has been done to improve the skills of the creative teams.”
You’re well known as an electronics expert. Do you enjoy the speed with which technology develops?
“Absolutely. It’s a major reason why I’m here. I did my training as a mechanical engineer, which is probably just as well because the electronics I’d have learned back then would be irrelevant today. You have to be very clear-minded about electronics today. In a modern infotainment system, it’s the business model that counts most, and the platform that supports it. In the future, the client will have all his applications and data in the cloud, and they will run in the car as they do on his phone or laptop.”
Is it true that infotainment systems are now more complex than engine technology?
“Yes, vastly more complicated. Most engine control units have a capacity of about 2MB, whereas a simple mobile has 100MB. It’s no contest.”
What do you think of Jaguar Land Rover quality and reliability?
“Today, it is completely different from what I remember. The difference is the attention the company gives today’s customer. In the old days, as leader of the turnaround team, I remember informing the Rover board that poor quality was their biggest problem. But the guy in charge disagreed. ‘Nonsense,’ he said. ‘We’ve just improved it.’ Today, it’s completely different. Broadly speaking, we are at the levels of our competitors, give or take. But we can improve, and we will.”