Jaguar Land Rover is on a bit of a roll, investing £5bn in launching ’40 significant products’ over the next five years, and last month announced it would create 1,000 new jobs at its Halewood factory on Merseyside to meet strong demand for its Range Rover Evoque and Freelander 2.
All eyes will, however, be on the F-type, carrying as it does the weight of expectation of its coveted lettered series. But the company seems to have the right idea: while linking the car to its esteemed heritage for brand value, it’s keen to stress the car will be its own thing. The last thing anyone needs is for UK manufacturers to be towed down the motorway of technological advancement by past successes, churning out sleek beasts that churn out 1970s levels of emissions, for example.
Instead Jaguar wants to be seen to be ahead of the curve. The design will be based on the C-X16 concept it unveiled in September 2011 – which can accelerate from zero to 62mph in 4.4 seconds, yet emits just 165g/km of CO2.
Of course, Jaguar Land Rover’s not the only company with its foot pressed to the floor. Daimler is now vowing to be back as the top-selling premium carmaker by 2020, itself planning new products that will target young drivers. Its Mercedes brand sold a record number of vehicles last year but was overshadowed by even higher sales and profits at rivals Audi and BMW. Daimler’s response was to announce that it’s investing €10.9bn in R&D over the next couple of years, while budgeting for €10.6bn in property, plant and equipment expenditures in the period – €2.7bn more than the two years before.
It’s good to see such va-va-voom returning to the automotive sector. All of which adds up to a far more tantalizing idea than that of Citroen, which is itself targeting a younger market by harnessing the power of social media to design a special edition of its C1, asking Facebook users to chip in their ideas. Is that really the best way to keep with the times? It will probably wind up with a dashboard full of videos of cats doing funny things. We’d much be much more reassured by one big cat on the bonnet.