Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar
Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar
Image: Newspress UK

The design team of any car company is always a central part of the business. After all, if something does not look good and fit the image of the brand then it risks not selling, although there have been some exceptions to the rule over the years.

"Designers have a responsibility," says Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design. "We can ruin a brand in five years."

Fortunately, he says, the design team at Jaguar is still very much listened to when it comes to business decisions. He points out that he has been asked about designing an SUV many times since 1999 but until recently, he had always said no.

"SUVs can’t drive the culture of the business," he says adding that in the early brief he was not seeing enough Jaguar. Eventually of course, around five years ago, Callum agreed to pen an SUV, mainly "because that’s what people want". But he insists that any SUV model "has to be on our (Jaguar’s) terms."

The first was the successful F-Pace, which even took the World Car of the Year title. That was followed by the battery-electric I-Pace which will go on sale in 2018. Jaguar’s apparent transition to becoming a predominantly SUV manufacturer is not done there either, with the E-Pace also coming in 2018 and rumours of an Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLS-rivalling J-Pace also on the way.

That’s not to say that Jaguar is done with sedans though, far from it, says Callum.

Callum resisted the move to SUVs initially, but now he is churning them out, like the 2018 E-Pace
Callum resisted the move to SUVs initially, but now he is churning them out, like the 2018 E-Pace
Image: Newspress UK

He points out that sedans are aerodynamically more efficient than SUVs, something that will help in the quest to reduce emissions and consumption.

Electrification is also a key area. "I think we should electrify everything," says Callum.

That is already on the cards, with Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth confirming to us last month that the company will embark on an electrification strategy from 2020.

Like Speth and other industry leaders, Callum is unhappy with some of the political decisions taking place. He says politicians need to think their policies through properly, revealing that many changes taking place in the industry have "been forced upon us".

Whatever the rationale behind the political decisions, there are significant changes taking place and Callum says that the engineering division is keen to match design when it comes to future models, but says "physics will only go so far, and chemistry".

An example is including the batteries in any design. How batteries in the floor evolve is quite challenging, but he and his team is trying to influence the outcome, he says.

There is an incredible opportunity with battery technology but cars are going to have to get taller in order to accommodate it, Callum says.

And what about electrification of older models? Jaguar recently unveiled a battery-electric version of the iconic E-Type. Callum is not convinced but he has driven it and says he was "impressed by how much like an E-Type it felt".

Callum remains passionate about classic cars and recently bought a Vauxhall Chevette HS
Callum remains passionate about classic cars and recently bought a Vauxhall Chevette HS
Image: Newspress UK

He remains a fan of classic cars and recently bought a car that is not traditionally high on everyone’s classic wish list, a Vauxhall Chevette HS. It was one of 400 manufactured to meet homologation regulations so the car could compete in international rallying in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

The 2.3l engine developed just over 100kW and the rally car went on to win the British Rally Championship in 1979 and also in 1981.

Finally we asked him about his view on car-sharing, something that is increasingly growing in popularity in major urban centres around the world.

"Do you want to own someone else’s shoes?" he asked, adding that he does not believe ownership will disappear.

It is ironic that he refers to someone else’s shoes, because this week more details emerged of the new Road Rover, a car being developed by Land Rover.

It would appear that the sister company is quite keen to try on Jaguar’s shoes, just as Jaguar’s move into SUVs signals that it thinks the traditional Land Rover SUV shoes are fitting rather well.

This article was originally published by the Business Day.You can view the original article here.

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