Tech & Innovation

“Every company is a technology company”: Jaguar Land Rover repositions

By Business & Finance
20 October 2017
The Jaguar Electrifies lineup: E-type Zero, I-Pace and Future-Type.

Jaguar Land Rover have repositioned themselves firmly as a tech company that makes cars, melding heritage with a forward-thinking attitude at their recent Tech Festival. Deanna O’Connor reports.

The quote “every company is a technology company” is attributed to Peter Sondergaard, Senior VP and Global Head of Research at Gartner, who made his remarks at the 2013 Gartner Symposium, a global gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives. It has been bandied about a lot since, and while most of us do our work on computers, and some have made forays into digital transformation, few have really gone for it in such a deep and meaningful way as Jaguar Land Rover. Which brings us to their landmark event, the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest 2017, in the suitably inspiring location of London’s Central Saint Martin’s art college.

Fiona Pargeter, Head of Global PR Communications at Jaguar Land Rover


In her opening address, setting the tone for the day, Fiona Pargeter, Head of Global PR Communications at Jaguar Land Rover, revisited that famous quote by announcing: “We are firmly on a journey from analogue to digital, from cogs to code. We are a technology company that makes cars.”

Design classic

Saint Martin’s is a byword for excellence in design, with the list of notable alumni too long to reel off in full – some of its best-known household names include the fashion designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

When it comes to design classics, then, Saint Martin’s a very suitable setting to greet an old friend, the E-Type. Acclaimed by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car in the world,” sitting in the lobby of the Tech Fest is a shining example of the vintage stunner – except it isn’t. As Jaguar Land Rover announced that by 2020 every car they launch will be electrified, they future-proofed one of the world’s favourite cars by producing a fully electric model. The E-Type Zero is based on a 1968 Series 1.5 Roadster and it looks every bit as covetable. If your reaction upon seeing it isn’t “take my money, take it now!” then you are very possibly dead inside.

Jaguar Land Rover TechFest ETYPE_ZERO_10
The E-Type Zero

The project to reimagine the E-Type was engineered by Jaguar Classic at the company’s new Classic Works in Warwickshire, and codenamed ‘Project Dylan’ – echoing the move by Bob Dylan from acoustic to electric guitar in 1965. In this new electric model the specs are impressive: its cutting-edge electric powertrain can deliver 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds. To put this in perspective, it’s the same time achieved by a 2009 Jaguar XK 5.0 Convertible.

Millennials and mobility

From reimagined heritage to a vision of the future: also on display was the dream of the Future-Type, a concept exploring mobility in the connected world of tomorrow where vehicles may be shared and not owned.

One of the panel discussions, ‘Millennials and Mobility’, explored the attitudes of today’s young adults towards car ownership. As British vlogger Dan Howell pointed out, “transport is just a function for the millennial generation. You only drive when you need it. If there’s a service, you might not need to ever.”

While some millennials move away from car ownership, preferring services such as GoCar or Uber, Matilda Andersson, Head of Insight & Innovation at Crowd DNA, pointed out that as we move towards more communal living spaces the car becomes a personalised space. “When people are making videos in their cars, using it as a place to relax, for freedom, to hang out with friends, ownership becomes interesting again,” she noted.

Personalisation of the automobile experience is very much behind the concept of Sayer, an intelligent steering wheel (pictured above) on display at the event. Named after Malcolm Sayer, the designer of the E-Type, Jaguar Land Rover once again seamlessly integrate their rich history as a heritage brand with a futuristic technology-driven approach to innovation. The Sayer does not live in a car – after all, we are heading towards a car-sharing future. It lives in the home and functions like a virtual assistant: it is the first voice-activated AI steering wheel. The advanced speech recognition software can answer your questions, connect you to news, organise travel and select entertainment. It is not only the key to the car, it is membership to an on-demand service club that offers either sole ownership or the option of car-sharing.

In his opening address Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr Ralf Speth alluded to the capabilities of the Sayer, and the type of technology that will be as standard in the cars of the future when he noted: “We are developing cars that will be able to tell if you are fit to drive, or too tired, or give you a health check.”

Dr Ralf Speth, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover

Electric dreams

Dr Speth pointed to road haulage as the first industry where he sees significant changes coming, with the introduction of autonomous vehicles potentially boosting productivity and cutting costs – with an end result of cheaper goods in shops for consumers.

As Dr Speth stated, “the next stage of globalisation must be about more than competition. It must be about collaboration. Shared social knowledge. As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest that survive or the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” He also noted that dates had been set by the UK government for the banning of diesel and petrol by 2040, and urged that a societal effort should be put in place to prepare, with a network of charging points and sufficient electric grid capacity to power them being of key importance.

The Jaguar I-Pace Concept performance SUV, available from next year, is a perfect example of the company’s attitude towards change: starting with a clean sheet they engineered a bespoke, tailored pure electric SUV from the ground up.

The Jaguar I-Pace Concept performance SUV

Connecting digital minds and analogue hearts 

Anders Sorman-Nilsson, a futurist and author of Digilogue: How to Win the Digital Minds and Analogue Hearts of Tomorrow’s Customer, pointed out in his keynote that so many brands are now “perfectly prepared for a world that no longer exists”. He explored how we can harness technology to achieve greater things, and said that we must “look at the beneficent impact of humans in the manufacturing chain”.

Anders Sorman-Nilsson, Futurist

“Brands like Jaguar Land Rover as heritage brands can weave a story from past to present to future,” said Anders, “designing a customer experience, connecting digital minds and analogue hearts”.

For me, while the technology of an innovation like the Sayer steering wheel is thrilling, the E-Type Zero was the perfect example of Jaguar Land Rover connecting nostalgia, heritage and futurism – a design classic reimagined to function in the world of today… and not just today, but future-proofing for tomorrow’s world. If there’s a waiting list for it, put my name down.