Designing Jaguars for the connected world

Jaguar Land Rover’s head designer, Ian Callum, believes the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies will be among the biggest influencers on what the cars of the future will be used for and look like.

Callum said: “It’s how the car will react to the rest of the world that is the most interesting part of connectivity. How it will talk to other cars and the place of the car in the world will become much more relevant than the way we use smartphones.”

And speaking to journalists of the Fleet Street Motoring Group during a lunch at London’s oldest restaurant Rules, Callum said more than once that he would very much like to design a fully electric car.

Some auto pundits suggest this could be an indication that Jaguar may be contemplating entering Tesla’s niche market as a way of broadening the brand’s appeal, especially in the crucial US market where its sales lag far behind its German rivals largely because of its limited model offering.

Alluding to Tesla’s technology, Callum said: “If you listen to the customers, you know what they want and they want touchscreens and they want information on glossy tablets. Tesla has taken that to its ultimate expression so far and the portrait screen is likely to become the norm. Personally, I don’t like them because once you get below a certain eye level you’re into that potential danger zone of not being ready to control the car.”

He said the dynamic within the vehicle will change with increased connectivity and carmakers will have to respond by providing different solutions for the occupants.

Callum said: “Touchscreens will become the norm and the separation between the passengers’ view of life and the driver’s view will become more distinctive. You have to entertain the passengers as well and we’ve already got Dual View screens and but I can see a point where that connectivity for the passenger matters as much as for the driver.”

While Callum expects to be happily retired and free to spend time with classic cars by the time autonomous vehicles dominate our roads, there is a lot of design and development left in cars before that time arrives.

He said: “Until when we get to autonomous driving, which will happen, the driver’s activity has to be concentrated well and truly in the process of driving.

“I’m very conscious about the ergonomics of that process – touching a touchscreen, for instance, or getting information via voice control that, as it gets better, will be much more prevalent in cars and become almost an industry standard. But it’s how you activate physical entities while you are moving is a very big deal.

“For example, using touchscreens you need somewhere to rest your hand. That psychology or that simple act of putting your finger on something is a very subtle but interesting aspect of touchscreens in a car. When you touch a touchscreen at 60mph it’s a dynamic touch because your finger is travelling at 60mph and you only get one shot at it.

“These subtleties are really coming into play now and how we can really interact with touchscreens.”

Callum stated that, following the launch of Jaguar’s first SUV the F-PACE to be unveiled at The Frankfurt Motor Show in September but already seen supporting the Sky cycling team in the Tour de France, the Coventry manufacturer will be extending its range with a more ‘eclectic’ series of vehicles.

These cars will be part of a handover period between vehicles with their roots in a generation whose emotions were invested in cars and driving and the autonomous vehicle for a new breed of consumer interested more in technological services than the performance of the car.

He said: “There will be a transition where a car will be a standard car on which you can switch on autonomy and, up to that point, cars will remain pretty much as we know them today. The autonomous systems might help us to avoid accidents better, that’s the first stage, but when it gets to a full autonomous car does it just become viewed as we would a refrigerator or a washing machine?  I don’t know.

“What I am slightly sad about, is the majority of young people growing up don’t get the thrill from motor cars that we [the older generation] got from them.

“You only have to speak to the 25 to 35-year-olds to see that the automotive industry will have to change radically in the coming years.”

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