Mumbai: Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) India, the local arm of Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc., unveiled the two-seater F-Type for the local market on Monday. Priced upwards of Rs.1.37 crore excluding taxes, the F-Type competes with the Audi R8 and the Mercedes SLS. Successor to the E-Type, the new model marks the re-entry of Jaguar in the luxury sports car segment after a gap of more than five decades.
In an interview, Matthew Beaven, chief designer, exteriors, Jaguar Advanced Design, spoke about Tata group chairman emeritus Ratan Naval Tata’s personal involvement with car design and especially with the F-Type. The project had been shelved and then revived as Tata emphasized the need to have a sports car in the line-up to build the brand’s image. Beaven also touched upon Jaguar’s design philosophy and the company’s plans to set up Jaguar design studios in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil. Edited excerpts:
How did Ratan Tata’s passion for a sports car help revive the F-Type?
If you look back, Ford Motor Co. was all about making money and surviving in a difficult environment. The sports car industry is very small. The emphasis was on segments that help you make the most money. Jaguar always wanted to have a successor of the E-Type. With Ratan being so passionate about sports cars, it really helped in pushing it. Ratan, who studied architecture, understands design very well; he takes a personal interest in design. He is very good friends with Ian (Callum, design director, Jaguar Cars). Even now he takes time, tries to keep in touch to understand where we are—you can’t do that with so many people of his stature.
How has product planning changed since Tata Motors bought the company?
Ford Motor Co. had a methodical way of work. With Ratan, there is a direct link which is giving a much quicker response to products.
How critical is the F-Type in terms of building an image for Jaguar cars?
With the sports car, you get an opportunity to do proportions you dream of. Hopefully, this would have a major design influence on the rest of the products that follow.
With Jaguar Land Rover intensifying focus on emerging markets, do we see some learnings from emerging markets?
If we talk about the design philosophy, it’s always going to be related to Jaguar. People buy our products as they are Jaguar and British. Having said that, we operate in lots of countries. We will have to understand our customers more and do a lot more research and tailor our models accordingly.
Do you see emerging markets playing any role in car design?
We are a global company, now than ever before. We are considering to set up satellite studios in some of the countries to understand the markets better. We are very keen on looking at some of the major cities in Americas, China and India as we need to learn more.
How has Jaguar’s design philosophy changed over the years while trying to preserve its heritage?
The year (2000) was a year of re-birth for Jaguar design. This was the year Ian joined and started overseeing the design function. We worked on several concept models. Till then Jaguar was perceived as an old man’s car. Ian tried changing that image. Proportion and form have been the most important design elements. The simple lines ensures that the design remains contemporary for a longer time.