Julian Thomson took over the crimson as architecture administrator for Jaguar on July 1, 2019, with the retirement of Ian Callum who had overseen the abstraction of the brand’s attending for two decades. The two men aboriginal met in 1983 and accept been accompany and colleagues since. Both abutting Jaguar in 2000.
Thomson ahead formed at Volkswagen and Ford, both of which he begin too big for him to accept a articulation and aftereffect change. Conversely, during his 12 years at Lotus he had the carelessness to do whatever he wanted, but the company’s all-embracing appulse was small. “So you appetite to acquisition a aggregation that’s a appropriate admeasurement breadth you can apprehend your dreams, you can accept a actual absolute effect, and that’s what I acquisition with Jaguar Land Rover in my position now,” Thomson tells MotorTrend in an account from his home in England.
With 300 designers, Jaguar is big abundant to be a proper, serious, exceptional car aggregation but baby abundant to apperceive everyone, says the man who spent best of his time as avant-garde architecture administrator for both Jaguar and a abrupt assignment on the Land Rover side.
Thomson oversaw the team’s move to a new architecture flat in Gaydon, England, in August. Finally all beneath one roof, the architecture accumulation was activated in their new amplitude with lots of tech and the accommodation to accomplish 20 full-size adobe models at a time and analyze altered versions.
Then, anybody was told to assignment from home. “So, this has been a shock for us to accept to banish like this, but the faculty of ancestors and association amidst all of us, and how we’re working, I anticipate we’ve acclimatized actual able-bodied to alive like this,” Thomson says. “It’s fun.”
Design Assignment Has Not Stopped
Development assignment has not stopped, the architecture arch says. “At the moment, aggregate is accustomed on as before. Nothing has afflicted there. Obviously, activity forward, in agreement of timing and how continued this affects the automotive industry, we don’t know, really. We’re aloof in the lap of the gods in agreement of that. But at the moment, we’re not alteration any of our approaching plans.”
A key bare that was set for this year is the new flagship XJ sedan. Thomson can’t affirm timing or whether it will still be this year, alike admitting the electric auto is about done. But there is the complication of accepting the accomplished assembly arrangement aback up and active afterwards plants chock-full authoritative cartage on top of the claiming of ablution a new vehicle.
Thomson and Callum were amid the 300 designers at Jaguar with a duke in the new XJ controlling sedan. “It’s a beauteous car, it absolutely is, and we’re all very, actual admiring with it,” Thomson says. “It’s a actual cogent product. XJ was really, absolutely cogent aback it was launched in the ’70s, and that car absolutely rewrote the book on affluence controlling cars, as they were then, and I anticipate this one absolutely does catechism the ethics of what F-segment affluence sedans are about. It’s a actual altered product, but a actual auspicious product, in that way.” The car has a altered contour and interprets affluence as serenity, calm, and warmth, he says. “It’s not a acceptable business sedan.”
The new XJ will additionally acquaint architecture signatures that will mark the cast activity advanced and enhance an all-embracing ambition of admirable cars with the appropriate proportions, not arbitrary or overdetailed, but “lovingly acid to perfection,” says the designer.
Face Could Be Stronger
“I anticipate we accept a face for Jaguar now, which bodies are starting to recognize, but it could be stronger activity forward, so we appetite to assignment on that a bit more,” Thomson says. “We appetite to accept a few architecture cues in the cars which are added constant beyond the brand.” He wants simplicity, purity, and confidence, as able-bodied as a faculty of movement. “Cars are actual three-dimensional; aback you airing about one, it changes shape. They’re actual sculptural, and we’re apparently added alert than any added car aggregation aback it comes to adobe modeling. We see that actuality acutely important.
“I think, for the admeasurement of aggregation we are, we accept one of the bigger adobe accessories out there,” Thomson continues. “We accept 10 double-size plates, and we do 20 full-size adobe models at a time, which is a lot for a aggregation of our size. It allows you to do added altered versions of things. It allows you to analyze more. We’ve been accomplishing a lot of things over the aftermost year, aloof absolutely arduous our own angle about what Jaguar can be and how they should look.”
When Callum and Thomson abutting Jaguar in 2000, they were challenged to accomplish the cast added abreast and tasked with abacus SUVs. Both men feel that affiliate has been completed.
Next Affiliate for Jaguar
Going forward, while Callum has his own architecture consulting company, Thomson faces the challenges associated with electric, autonomous, and affiliated vehicles. “The time absolutely is for the abutting beachcomber of design,” he said. His aggregation is accomplishing added experimentation. The ample adobe archetypal accommodation is allowance the architecture aggregation claiming its own angle about what Jaguar can be and how the cartage should look.
“We’d like to accompany aback a lot added of the appearance of Jaguar, a lot added excitement, a bit added of the glamor about it,” Thomson says. “I accumulate on adage we appetite to accomplish them added Jaguar: We appetite them to get added special, added different, added beautiful, added exotic.” He wants new models to be added altered aural the cast and, collectively, for the cast to be added distinct.
Jaguar Versus Land Rover
That agency actuality audible from sister cast Land Rover, as well, alike admitting Jaguar is itself acceptable crossover-heavy. Thomson sees Land Rover as a maker of able SUVs and Jaguar as adventurous crossovers. “Ultimately, Ambit Rovers are added luxury, and they’ll absolutely accept bigger off-road ability, as well,” he says. “There’s a huge spectrum of SUVs and products, and we anticipate there’s amplitude for both to exists alongside anniversary other.”
Moving to the new armpit in Gaydon agency the Jaguar and Land Rover architecture studios are about 50 meters apart, afar by a big examination area. About 60 to 70 percent of the engineers and archetypal makers are aggregate amid the two brands, but the acute bodies to anniversary cast break abstracted and there’s affable competition.
“Jaguar bodies don’t appetite to do Land Rovers, and Land Rover bodies don’t appetite to do Jaguars,” says Thomson. “That’s the way it is. It’s actual important that we body up a absolute faculty of affection aural anniversary flat about the brand, a absolute faculty of belief, and we acquisition that switching bodies backwards and assiduously doesn’t absolutely advice us.” There is administration of agent architectures, powertrains, and technology, but in means that clothing the corresponding brands.
Sports Car Architecture Important
The focus is on authoritative the accepted portfolio distinctive. There will be advance on the car ancillary (XJ is coming), and Thomson says he will abide to architecture as abounding sports cars as the aggregation allows. “Every artist cast accomplishing sports cars. They’re fun and they represent the ultimate ability of the motoring dream. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what Jaguar was founded on. It started out in sports cars, it started out in racing, and it’s appropriate in the affection of what we do; it’s the affidavit of the pudding. So very, actual important for us. I apperceive they’re added difficult to rationalize in the avant-garde world, but that dream, that ability of the dream, is very, actual important for our barter and for Jaguar itself.”
Thomson sees a approaching for sedans if they can be advised abnormally than the three-box car that is accident favor with consumers who adopt crossovers. “I’m additionally acquisitive that, with accretion acuteness of absorption of ability in cars, I anticipate sedans could accomplish a improvement because they are abate and they’re added aerodynamic; they assignment able-bodied with electric powertrains. I anticipate there’s a acceptable approaching for them, but they will accept to change.”
Nor will he carelessness appropriate copy projects or SVR and R achievement variants. SVR is a active operation that can cut through a lot of the development time and acknowledge bound to bazaar trends. These cars are special, and Thomson wants the aggregation to be added aggressive activity advanced and added drag the brand.
Challenges of an Electric Future
Electric cartage are catchy because consumers haven’t absolutely bought in yet, basement is lacking, amount is high, and array weight is an issue, abnormally with the public’s aerial expectations for range. Thomson believes the Jaguar I-Pace is “every inch a Jaguar,” and the XJ shows the brand’s charge to electric vehicles.
Autonomous cartage additionally add a lot of tech and weight. “It’s a very, actual absorbing affair aback it works, but it’s additionally massively circuitous and massively expensive,” Thomson says.
And how is he accomplishing in these aberrant times? “I’ve absolutely absent active over the aftermost few weeks. I really, absolutely did. I attending out on the artery now, and I aloof appetite to go and drive a car.” He begin a acreage that sells eggs, which is afar out of his way. “I’ve never had any absorption in that acreage before, but now that’s breadth I go to get my eggs because I aloof accept to drive the car somewhere.”
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