AN AUTO EX­EC­U­TIVE FROM THE MID­DLE EAST WORTH LIS­TEN­ING TO

Jaguar Land Rover’s Sal­man Sul­tan

Sharp Magazine Middle East (English) - - The Bad Sport -

As PR and So­cial Me­dia Man­ager for Jaguar Land Rover in our re­gion, Sal­man Sul­tan has a dream job rep­re­sent­ing th­ese renowned lux­ury brands. The Mid­dle East has a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with Range Rover in par­tic­u­lar, and Sul­tan is one of the guardians of that en­dur­ing bond. Mean­while, over in Amer­i­can JLR’S for­mer owner, Ford, is scut­tling all but two pas­sen­ger cars from its lineup as JLR con­tin­ues to push for broader hori­zons in its Tata era. With that in mind, we sat down with the man him­self to see what JLR has cook­ing, and what he fore­sees for the brands in the rapidly trans­form­ing space that is the car in­dus­try.

How would you de­fine your out­look on where the auto in­dus­try is headed in the years to come?

The au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try as a whole is on a jour­ney to cre­ate the car of the fu­ture, a car that is more ca­pa­ble, cleaner, smarter and more con­nected. This jour­ney be­gan 18 years ago when Jaguar was the first in the mar­ket to in­tro­duce Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol in the XK in the 1990s.

Jaguar Land Rover is em­brac­ing the new world of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and we in the Mid­dle East are also fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing against our global vi­sion. As one of the lead­ing au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world, we are recog­nis­ing th­ese trends and re­act­ing to them by pi­o­neer­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies in our own Jaguar Land Rover way, and im­ple­ment­ing them in our re­gion.

Whether we are talk­ing about ve­hi­cles that are fully elec­tric, plug-in hy­brid or mild hy­brid ve­hi­cles, they are all key to the fu­ture of mo­bil­ity and the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. The MENA re­gion is renowned for its early adopters, and as such it is key we keep up pace with the needs, ex­pec­ta­tions and re­quire­ments of our dis­cern­ing cus­tomers.

We have an ex­cit­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio com­ing to the re­gion in 2018 and beyond. Cus­tomer Ser­vice is an­other great fo­cus area for us as sell­ing cars is one thing, and pro­vid­ing pre­mium cus­tomer ser­vice is an­other.

With all th­ese changes hap­pen­ing within the au­to­mo­tive space, how do you see this im­pact­ing the lux­ury car seg­ment?

There are changes hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try but I think that even our con­cept of, ‘what is lux­ury?’ is also chang­ing. So we have to be flex­i­ble to adapt.

Defin­ing a lux­ury car of 30 years ago meant that we talked about high qual­ity leather and au­to­matic cli­mate air- con­di­tion­ing which are tan­gi­ble items whereas to­day, lux­ury is also in­cludes el­e­ments that in­volve con­nec­tiv­ity and ‘what the car can do for you’ in or­der for you to ex­tract more from your day.

Time has also be­come a lux­ury in to­day’s busi­ness life­style, and so I think in the fu­ture, this will be en­hanced with au­ton­o­mous and con­nected ve­hi­cles, giv­ing us more free­dom to in­ter­act with each other in­stead of just com­mut­ing from point A to point B.

Lux­ury cars, no mat­ter what form they may take, are pre­mium, and spe­cial prod­ucts, of­ten lim­ited in num­bers and tai­lored by crafts­men to the spe­cific needs of their clients and so like a fine suit, there will al­ways be room for lux­ury ve­hi­cles.

Are you find­ing that move­ment from the big­ger tech­nol­ogy play­ers (Google, Ap­ple, etc.) are hav­ing an im­pact on the auto in­dus­try of late, both from a con­sumer stand­point, and from want­ing to get into the self­driv­ing car game?

It’s an in­ter­est­ing point as you start to won­der, at what stage do IT and Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies be­come auto man­u­fac­tur­ers or vice versa.

I think now, af­ter quite a few years of de­vel­op­ment from those

com­pa­nies, we’re dis­cov­er­ing that Sil­i­con Val­ley is find­ing it a lit­tle harder than it imag­ined to get into the car man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness.

For sure, those busi­nesses are pro­vid­ing a vi­tal role in the next phase of car de­vel­op­ment and we’re work­ing with them all, but pro­duc­ing a car from scratch is not a sim­ple task. From the foundry that makes the steel to the man­u­fac­tur­ing, me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, safety, build qual­ity and com­fort takes a lot of peo­ple with a lot of very dif­fer­ent skillsets.

They are our part­ners who play a piv­otal role in de­vel­op­ing cer­tain tech­nolo­gies which they test un­der real-world con­di­tions, which is amaz­ing, but I think it will be quite some time be­fore you can buy a car built from the ground up, en­tirely by a tech­nol­ogy com­pany with­out the part­ner­ship of an au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­turer.

On the self- driv­ing topic, how do you see au­ton­o­mous driv­ing im­pact­ing the lux­ury seg­ment in the long run?

The lux­ury car seg­ment will see early adopters of the new tech­nol­ogy and so you can imag­ine that the first fully au­ton­o­mous cars will have in­te­ri­ors con­fig­ured for lux­ury or busi­ness travel.

Ad­di­tion­ally, lux­ury cars in the ma­jor cities like Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Lon­don Dubai and New York also cater for a chauf­feur- driven clien­tele where park­ing is near im­pos­si­ble and so those who pre­fer be­ing driven around, do so to make sure they get around as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble, with­out spend­ing time on look­ing for park­ing.

One will prob­a­bly first see fully au­ton­o­mous cars in the chauf­feured car seg­ment so in that re­gard there could be lit­tle to no neg­a­tive im­pact on the lux­ury seg­ment as they will com­ple­ment what we now re­fer to as lux­ury cars by pro­vid­ing the same func­tions as a chauf­feured car.

The high­est level of au­ton­omy, level five, will be able to drop you at your door then cir­cle and find a park­ing spot on its own else­where be­fore com­ing back to col­lect you, much like a limou­sine driver would do now.

Are you tak­ing ad­van­tage of that du­al­ity right now with your daily driver?

As it stands right now, in the MENA re­gion, the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try is still in its early years to fully be in a po­si­tion to ac­ti­vate what is cur­rently the high­est level of au­ton­omy which is level three, so un­for­tu­nately no.

Level three is the first stage where the car takes re­spon­si­bil­ity and you can for short pe­ri­ods of time, let it drive you on dual car­riage­ways, but it also re­quires the use of stan­dard­ised road signs, lane mark­ings and other things which the car reads, that have not been im­ple­mented in this re­gion yet.

There is of course level two which is what many new car buy­ers are fa­mil­iar with now such as in­tel­li­gent/adap­tive cruise con­trol that keeps you at a safe dis­tance from the car in front and lane as­sist which helps keep the car in its lane and park as­sist where you hand over the park­ing du­ties to the car.

Those are all avail­able in our range of ve­hi­cles, and so yes, I take ad­van­tage of those as much as pos­si­ble when I drive one of our Jaguar or Land Rover prod­ucts

Do you think there’s al­ways go­ing to be a place out there for the, shall we call it the “man­u­ally driven”car?

Our Au­ton­o­mous Ur­ban Drive re­search is Jaguar Land Rover’s next step in our de­vel­op­ment of both fully and semi- au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies. How­ever, we aren’t look­ing at sim­ply re­plac­ing the driver, and mak­ing cars ‘driver­less’. Fu­ture tech­nolo­gies will give the driver more not less – as they will as­sist and ul­ti­mately en­hance the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

If there’s one car that you’d love to have in your garage per­ma­nently, what would it be?

If I had to pick one car to have per­ma­nently, it would be the Range Rover Sport SVR. The Range Rover Sport SVR, is de­sign-en­abling tech­nol­ogy is cen­tral to Range Rover Sport’s de­sir­abil­ity, from its Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem to the Pixel LED lights for greater vis­i­bil­ity and higher def­i­ni­tion.

The new SVR de­riv­a­tive, takes the Range Rover Sport into new ter­ri­tory. Ul­ti­mate per­for­mance with Power up to 575hp, de­liv­er­ing the 0-60mph sprint in only 4.3 sec­onds, while bold de­sign re­vi­sions and the in­creased use of car­bon fi­bre (which I hon­estly love) con­struc­tion mak­ing the new SVR more dra­matic, faster and more ag­ile.

“THE LUX­URY CAR SEG­MENT WILL SEE EARLY ADOPTERS OF THE NEW TECH­NOL­OGY AND SO YOU CAN IMAG­INE THAT THE FIRST FULLY AU­TON­O­MOUS CARS WILL HAVE IN­TE­RI­ORS CON­FIG­URED FOR LUX­URY OR BUSI­NESS TRAVEL.”

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