During an interview with Adrian Hallmark at the Frankfurt motor show last week, I asked Jaguar’s brand director whether he was concerned by reports that young people appeared to be less interested in cars, chiefly because they couldn’t afford to buy or run them.
In the main, Jaguar’s current product range appeals to buyers in the more mature categories. The average age of the XJ buyer is about 58, says Hallmark, and the XF’s buyers average out at around 54. There’s a fairly straightforward explanation: Jaguar makes premium vehicles that are, by and large, not affordable to lower age groups.
However, with the manufacturer planning to introduce a range of products that should appeal to younger buyers, such as the forthcoming sports saloon and proposed SUV, I was interested to know whether he was worried about where the Jaguar owners of tomorrow would come from.
In light of the informed debate sparked by Jay Nagley’s article on the subject, it seems relevant to share his response.
“I worry a little bit about the industry talking itself down,” Hallmark said. “I’m more inspired today about the future of our industry than I have been for the past 20 years.
“We’ve visited universities and listened to the concerns that young people have about the planet. With the efforts that are going into battery vehicles, hybrids and other alternative forms of energy, as well as development of the internal combustion engine, I think in the next 10 years there will be far more innovation delivered than in the previous 30 years combined.
“That excites people. They may worry about how they can afford a car or the cost of running one, and think because they live in the city it is easier to use a taxi or electric bike, for example. But come the day when they have kids and everything that comes with that, they will still want a car to be safe and go on holiday.
“It may mean that the whole process of owning a car looks and feels different, but I think the notion that people don’t want to be mobile is rubbish and that people don’t like cars is wrong.
“Patterns are changing and we have to change to meet them. The industry, because it is still stuck on its traditional pattern of production lines and combustion engines, is slow to adapt. A car takes five years to develop and a factory takes 30 years to pay back. You can’t just close them and build something else tomorrow. You have got to evolve this system.
“Are young people disinterested in cars? There’s less mechanical interest – Meccano sells a lot less than iPads – but our desire to be active and mobile and experience things will continue and there’s a role for the car yet.”