It’s Tata to the past

Jaguar Land Rover em­braces the fu­ture, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

FIRST it was 600 new staff. Now it’s a new vi­sion for the fu­ture. Things are chang­ing, and chang­ing fast, for Jaguar Land Rover un­der its new own­er­ship by Tata of In­dia. It is re­cruit­ing 600 en­gi­neer­ing spe­cial­ists across the two brands and has opened a Vir­tual Re­al­ity Cen­tre in Bri­tain to help de­sign the cars of the fu­ture. Such a huge fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment points to a solid fu­ture, per­haps even in­clud­ing the goa­head for a born-again E-Type Jaguar to sell along­side the forth­com­ing baby Land Rover LRX city car. JLR is now di­vorced from Ford, which sold it to Tata when the late Ge­off Po­lites was run­ning the op­er­a­tion and lead­ing it back into sig­nif­i­cant profit for the first time in 10 years. ‘‘There is a fair bit of lib­er­a­tion there. Our se­nior peo­ple are walk­ing around with their chests thrust out,’’ says the head of JLR Aus­tralia, David Black­all, who has just re­turned from head of­fice in Bri­tain. ‘‘It’s a big re­cruit­ment drive. Most of the em­pha­sis is on new tech­nol­ogy and sus­tain­able en­ergy. We’ve ba­si­cally been given the brief that . . . we’re try­ing to build for the fu­ture. It’s about as up­beat and pos­i­tive as I’ve seen it for a long time. ‘‘It’s all about sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies. When you make fairly large, off-road-ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cles, you need a way for­ward in a re­duced-car­bon world.’’ Black­all re­ports strong sales in Aus­tralia since the ar­rival of the latest Jaguar XF, the make-or­break model for the brand. ‘‘XF on the Jaguar side has be­gun bril­liantly. We sold our pro­gram in June for the best month for Jaguar in about four years,’’ he says. ‘‘We have a lit­tle more sup­ply and will sell 400 to 450 Jaguars to the end of the year.’’ In Bri­tain, the Vir­tual Re­al­ity Cen­tre is the key to the cars, which will fol­low the XF, the forth­com­ing XJ flag­ship and the LRX. The cen­tre cost more than $5 mil­lion and is in­tended to cut new-model de­vel­op­ment times. JLR claims it is the most ad­vanced of its type in the world and al­lows de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers to in­ter­act with life-size, three-di­men­sional mod­els. The sys­tem re­duces the need for phys­i­cal pro­to­types, sav­ing time and money. It uses eight Sony high-res­o­lu­tion pro­jec­tors to pro­duce 3D images for staff, who wear spe­cial glasses that give them a pic­ture four times as clear as a high-def­i­ni­tion television.

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