The House of Brands needs no wolf nearby
JLR: A term used for years. Fits alphabetically, trips off the tongue. Their recently aired Reimagine reconfiguration thoroughly confused this author. Jaguar clearly heads the pack now. Land Rover demoted to initials, dropped like a stone. According to Professor McGovern OBE “Range Rover and Defender are the brands. We love Land Rover but that name doesn’t hold the other’s equity. In luxury you need absolute clarity.” Prof Gerry continued with “The Jaguar of 32 years ago is where we’re going back to — and it’s the right place for us to be.”
I headed to the corporate website for (hopeful) clarification only to find this. Land Rover — vehicle and driver united by adventure. Jaguar (by 2025, not far away) will introduce a portfolio of beautifully dramatic and engaging vehicles. As designs of any metre have yet to surface, today we peer through the window at the far end from manufacturing.
Both Jaguar and Land Rover support their own, separate lines that include classic along with special new vehicles. Prosperous enough to own an original C-Type — we can service that for you, sir. Require parts from original factory drawings for your Series One Land Rover? Walk this way.
Special Vehicle Operations, sadly not a covert military unit opens the floodgates for ultra-exclusivity. Their opening strap line being ‘Unrivalled Luxury. Peerless Performance’, along with a picture showing a scuff plate ‘Commissioned for G. McGovern’. Enough wedge will get you anything. Luckily, online examples reveal ceramic switches, tasteful leather in two-tone combinations with TVs and tables, inside.
Outside, SVO are keen on fancy colour names; Sanguinello Orange, Petrolix Blue, Flux Silver, all metallic (along with a dozen or more others) but your taste is more satin matte, isn’t it? Handily, they provide a care package in order to keep the paint from shining. Would any users of such machines know where the outside tap and ‘specialised products’ are situated?
Heading back to the Cat and their electric racing team. Formula e has been used as Coventry’s technological in-road for several years now. It’s debatable that win on Sunday, sell Monday holds much charge, even with a recent 1-2 finish around the old Templehof Airport circuit, on Berlin’s outskirts. The series is compellingly irregular in competitiveness, leaving team principle, James Barclay either grinning inanely or stone-faced. The latter certainly occurred when team mates, Sam Bird and Mitch Evans, in an earlier season race in Hyderabad, India had a race ending contretemps.
The combined JLR global sales figures for the 2021/22 fiscal year reached over 370,000 in 23 countries. Impressive enough sounding numbers when two-thirds of that figure were of an electrical nature. But the need to generate cash is king. Jaguar’s finances (in particular) rarely read as balanced. Their close neighbours somewhat differ.
The automobile industry has moved on. Manufacturers no longer just build cars — did they ever? The modern day tangent being venture capital, of a which a fellow named Mike Smeed heads InMotion, for JLR. IM launched in 2016, Smeed becoming MD last October. “Leveraging it’s deep domain experience, InMotion invests globally to help shape future mobility”, being IM’s mission statement.
One in their portfolio being Apex AI who “develop safety certified, developer friendly and scalable software for mobility systems.” That’s a considerable distance from plugs, points and tappets. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California with offices in Gothenburg, along with Germany, this places them ideally for working with the big names. Apex Grace is their software development kit, whilst Ida “ensures optimal vehicle internal and external communication.” Keep up, they’ll be questions later.
Perhaps a little simpler to follow is a company (wholly unassociated with your author), By Miles. This London based firm deals with pay by the mile insurance, gaining many industry awards. The system appears legible and easy to use but prior to this piece being researched, unheard of.
Live over the pond and handy with the spanner’s, and more importantly still, the laptop? Urgently provide “Safe, Innovative and Exceptional Roadside and Mobility Assistance Experiences.” This Vienna, Virginia based InMotion venture once again contains excellent sounding credentials along with those all important customer opinions and reviews. Those last two companies are hardly close relations to JLR products.
Closer to home then. HavnLondon provide you with a chauffeured i-Pace with just thirty minutes notice. Heathrow to central London will set you back £74. Rolling out of Harrods and aiming for St. John’s Wood? That’s a 24 minute and 3.5 mile journey — £25, more if the traffic’s bad. Need a be-hatted driven Jag for longer? £500 bags you an eight hour day along with an allowance of 200 miles.
Prefer to drive a jalopy oneself? The Out Powered by JLR will be, ahem, right up your London street. Chose any of their line up and one receives unlimited mileage, EU Travel Insurance, Congestion and Dartford Crossing charges and, frequently required in the lowlands, snow chains. Residing in the capital entitles free delivery. The website offers that other cities will soon be on stream but if you want to play this way outside That London “Durness or St. Ives for example may make the experience expensive.” One has to login to appreciate the prices.
Maybe you’re a monthly burner, used to doling out the readies on the first of each month? Pivotal are a vehicle subscription company “Designed for Driving Freedom”, with a “seamless, flexible alternative to car ownership and leasing.” For your one-off £550 joining fee, one can then choose the tier most conducive, sit back and wait for the car to be delivered.
Your monthly expenditure covers delivery, tax and insurance. Blue costs £850 for a Discovery Sport, F-Pace or Evoque. £1,250 for Indigo nabs you i-Pace, Velar, Defender or Discovery. Violet removes you of £1,550 for a Range Rover Sport or Defender 110. Or the full fat Ultraviolet for which £2,000 opens the doors of the Range Rover. Don’t forget, six months subscription entitles you to a fresh vehicle.
My amazement stems from the realisation that there must be many out there using such companies. Perhaps such investments, start-ups and rental systems will help deliver some vehicles worth talking about, heading from the Coventry milieu.
One hopes for no huff, puff or houses blowing down.
The title refers to the New JLR Configuration and anagram of Reimagined.
“Jaguar Land Rover is a House of Brands: Range Rover. Defender. Discovery. Jaguar.” JLR Corporate Website statement.
24 thoughts on “Mirage End I”
Good morning Andrew. Well done for trying to make done sense of JLR’s latest ‘reimagining’ but I’m afraid I lost the will to live while trying to digest all the marketing hype quoted in your piece. (Admittedly, my revulsion at the sight of that black over ‘flip’ urine-coloured Range Rover in your third photo didn’t help my concentration.)
One increasingly gets the impression that the lunatics really have taken over this particular asylum. The Land-Rover side of the business appears to be in reasonably good health at present, although there appears to be a conspicuous lack of progress with regard to EVs: where is RR’s competitor to the Volvo EX90, for example? When the inevitable backlash against large ICE-powered SUVs comes (and it will, as the frequency of Global Warming induced extreme weather events increases) the company will be dangerously exposed.
Jaguar is a busted flush, with an ageing product range of models that were largely unsuccessful from the off. It must really be clinging on by its fingernails at this stage. That the aborted XJ replacement was allowed to get so close to production (surely an unprededented event for a major automaker in recent history?) does not fill me with any confidence for whatever is eventually produced instead. One wonders how much longer Tata will allow this situation to persist.
It’s obvious the new brooms have taken over the place and they haven’t the foggiest what they are doing. They wouldn’t know what brand equity is unless its listed in the quarter report.
It’s interesting to read the amount of comment about Jaguar’s impending implosion. This is an inordinate amount of bollocks. Step forward the automotive company that has never issued a mistep. Even German car companies get it wrong at times. Very few car companies have the history and pedigree of Jaguar. It’s back catalogue is full of grace and beauty few marques can match.
The whole automotive industry is at a crossroads (pun intended): electrification, hydrogen or both, build their own giga factories or buy batteries in, trading tarrifs, increasingly competent Chinese competition and a faddy buying public.
While it’s true Jaguar’s recent attempt at volume production in hindsight has been exposed as questionable, when they applied their minds to their first ever EV, it was ground breaking and made the competition sit up.
If their first attempt was that good in 2018, now they’ve concentrated all their energies into EV’s, surely they will be among the best in class. Therefore, the track record actually isn’t that bad. The decisions of the numerous CEO’s over the years are no reflection on the creative and technical talent within the business. All the talk of Jaguar being finished is premature at best, but really it’s utter bollocks especially before anyone has seen what they are planning.
Good afternoon Timbo and thank you for your comment. You make a stout defence of Jaguar but, respectfully, I must take issue with some of the points you raise:
“Very few car companies have the history and pedigree of Jaguar. It’s back catalogue is full of grace and beauty few marques can match.” True, but entirely irrelevant to the situation the company currently faces. The well of goodwill towards Jaguar is clearly running dry, at least amongst potential buyers.
“when they applied their minds to their first ever EV, it was ground breaking and made the competition sit up.” Maybe, but i-Pace sales have hardly been what one might expect of a car that is as revolutionary as you claim it is. Here are the global sales numbers since launch:
I don’t think there is any malice towards Jaguar in the comments, just frustration that another great marque, like Lancia and Alfa Romeo, for which there is similar affection, are withering on the vine, thanks to mismanagement.
I’m a little surprised they weren’t able to wedge “bespoke” or “breeding” or “best of Britain” in there. Or maybe they did and my eyes just glazed over.
At least they can still beat the world with corporate bullsh*ttery….
Asset Rich? Time poor? Then why not spend a good half hour trawling through a mass of incoherent verbiage offering an endless variety of overpriced solutions to imaginary problems. All our products have the full Dany Bahar certification of conformity, ensuring maximum bullshit for minimum returns.
We make cars. Here they are. Do you want one?
“We make cars. Here they are. Do you want one?”
That sounds pretty much like Volvo’s modus operandi: as another ‘non-Germanic premium big three’ car maker, they just quietly get on with the job of producing desirable vehicles that people want to buy. JLR would do well to pay more attention to their Nordic rival to see how its done.
If they intend to reach the asset-rich time-poor, surely it would make sense to cut to the chase and use basic, meaningful English without all the weasel words, superfluous adjectives and airy-fairy obfuscations. It adds nothing.
I couldn’t be bothered following it after the first grammatical fail: using ‘it’s’ instead of ‘its’ – in their mission statement, for heaven’s sake! I hope they craft their cars better than they use their words.
Or is this written in a separate dialect called Management English?
Or maybe it’s because I’m asset-poor and time-rich that I can’t understand?
Thank you for the article Andrew. I’m still deeply confused to what it is they’re doing exactly. All their previous models are becoming individual brands in their own right?
Wonderful corporate bafflegab. That´s where the creativity now is.
“Jaguar is dipping into the art world with its [un]reality social media showcase that uses an advanced artificial intelligence system to transform text into an image.”
I wonder what images would be produced by JLR’s press releases.
So this reeks more and more of desperation. What are people talking about at the moment? Ukraine? No. Prince Andrew? No. What about AI? Great idea.
“AI embodies the daring and curious self-expression unique to Jaguar”.
When I asked DALL-E for a Jaguar image, it came up with this. Like a lot of AI imagery, it has that feeling a bad dream has just before it becomes a nightmare. So maybe Prof. McG is right – it does embody present day Jaguar.
With those faces it already is a nightmare.
For the rest of this, I have only one thing to say:
Jaguar is such an ailing old thing it should be dispatched immediately. A clear indication of a company heading for the wall is when it changes its name. Remember when Mercedes/BMW last did that? The directors may insist we use different names for the same old things but that doesn’t cut it. Friends in the US drive a Range Rover. They and loads of others just call them Rovers.
I’d be sorry to see Jaguar go but I fear you’re right. And you raise a good point about Range Rover; it definitely could stand on its own as a brand. Hell I think it’s as strong or stronger than Land Rover.
Maybe they should have renamed it as ‘Rover’ and grouped them all under one brand; the Rover Evoque, Velar, Sport, Vogue and Defender all have a nice ring to them.
Given the chance, I would refer the perpetrators of ‘Reimagine’ to Daniel 5:26-27.
Thank you for another interesting article Mr Miles. I have to admit to not understanding much of the “psychobabble” within the text which is fine as I wouldn’t buy anything from JLR anyways.
I wish Jaguar all the best. Perhaps this is the start of a new chapter. I certainly hope so.
Probably I´m being a bit clumsy but when Mr. McGovern says “The Jaguar of 32 years ago is where we’re going back to — and it’s the right place for us to be.”, what is he trying to say? Are we talking about the 1991 Jaguar that was saved from collapse thanks to Ford´s money? The Jaguar brand with an already outdated four year old XJ40 and a sixteen year old XJS?
That doesn´t look good.
b234r: I think what Mr. McGovern is referring to is more abstract, a metaphorical place rather than a physical one. In a certain sense it’s a position I can understand and stand behind, insofar as the place where Jaguar existed in 1991 (why choose that exact year, Gerry?) was very different (in brand-perception terms) to the place they find themselves now, thanks to Ralph Speth’s failed growth at all costs strategy. There is nothing particularly radical about what JLR is trying to do here with Jaguar. It is simply the same realisation Ford came to a decade or more ago, when they realised their own growth strategy for Jaguar was of a similar order of (failed) magnitude. This resulted in the development of cars like the X250 XF and X351 XJ, two of the most convincing Jaguar models of recent times, developed under the blue oval and at their expense – both intended to return Jaguar to a position slightly above the fray of the German ‘big three’ and removed from chasing volume at the expense of allure. Ford learned that lesson hard, but sold up before the benefits could be reaped, JLR by consequence reaping the benefit.
Scroll forward to 2023 and Reimagine is essentially Ford’s Damascene conversion redux. In some respects, Mr. McGovern is correct. The cars JLR have subsequently slapped leaping cats onto are not Jaguars. Nice cars, don’t misunderstand me, but not Jaguars.
But if we go back to 1991, for the sake of argument, whatever one might have thought then (or think now) about XJ40 or XJS, we can all pretty much coalesce around the argument that both were definitely Jaguars – for better and for worse. Personally, I would rather have that than the wishy-washy products that bear the name today.
So, Mr. McGovern, I will say this. Let your team’s work do the talking.
Beauty speaks. Show, don’t tell.
I’m shaking my head in disbelief.
Okay, in reality I was never in Jaguar’s marketing crosshairs, but I have always had an admiration for the brand going back to my childhood days of seeing sleek Mark Vs and even the earlier 3 1/2 litres parked at the inter-school sports. Proportions. Big wheels. Low roofs. Stance. Style. Such a contrast to Dad’s Morris Oxford (the dumpy Series II, not the Farina). They were old cars then, but they had a style that still oozed sportiness many years later.
They made an impression. Once seen, they were not forgotten, not by this eight-year-old!
I have no recollection of anything of a sporting nature that happened that day, just those Jaguars.
Could any of their current product do that?
I saw some time ago a young yuppie going down the busy morning street, apparently to an office job. Driving an XJ6, rectangular headlights.
Now, that is what i call “riding with style”!
The only contemporary car that can simulate such a feeling is the GIULIA, can’t really figure out why that is, but for me it is.
I think it has something to do with details in the design of the Alfa Romeo, whereas in the the case of the Jaguar it is embedded in the whole: pure class!
Why, after that, I feel positively Driven To Write!
Thanks for this post, Mr Miles.
To say I was thoroughly startled at what your words revealed would be an understatement. I liked the rather sly digs at Professor McGovern OBE and bar, then as I read further, began to realize that JLR’s ReImagine exercise was indeed “on”. Like something from another universe.
So I finished the article and comments and headed to the UK JLR website. At that point, I entered another dimension, a land of fairy tales, zephyr breezes, and outright horse droppings. And my mind simply couldn’t cope, so what follows is my stream of consciousness impressions, non-sequiturs, and disorganized hash of commentary, fully up to the new JLR standards, which no doubt were formulated at a corporate brainstorming retreat on a misty Yorkshire moor, where Mongolian Yurts and all modcons were provided, powered from a portable windmill generator to lessen the agony of biting chill and lashing rains. Or something. So forgive me my immoderate opinions when confronted with this howlingly awful barrage of JLR words signifying nothing whatsoever of import.
Never have I seen such a disorganized floundering mess of PR fluff and nonsense as I encountered at the JLR website. Well, there was one automotive disaster of a few years ago it reminded me of, that of Johann de Nysschen and his Cadillac misadventure, complete with an irrelevant and scarce-filled with customers upscale coffee shop in Soho, NYC. But the JLR approach seems much more of a fantasyland.
Anyway, after confusing and exhausting myself at all those little companies they’ve set up to do something or other, phone us and we’ll tell you but bring wheelbarrows full of money, I was thoroughly disappointed to not find a Discovery brand luxury upscale fish and chip shop where I could munch delicately deep-fried sustainable comestibles provided from a wind-powered electric fryer, guzzle a pint of wine from areas formerly devoted to gravel extraction and now recovered and repurposed for a sustainable future, and to feel, yes, these chaps know EXACTLY what they’re up to all right! Carry On! But where was the online T-shirt shop featuring angora inserts and fancy diamond-encrusted leather key fobs? I think some obvious marketing opportunities have been completely overlooked. Tsk, tsk.
“Guided by our Planet Regenerate, Engage for Good and Responsible Business programmes, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do.”
Well, of course it is! Forgive me. Being slightly dyslecix, I read that first as Planet Degenerate. What the heaven’s name they’re on about I haven’t got the first idea, but later the word digital crops up relentlessly. Well yes, of course, environment and digital are bed partners. Even Immanuel Kant knew that.
Help me, I’m floundering here trying to make heads and tails of complete JLR disorganized PR goop which has four distinct global brands according to them, a revelation unknown to current potential buyers who thought there was but one company flogging Jaguars and Land/Range Rovers but are now expected to recognize a multiplicity. Based on this illogic, Ford should have rebranded itself as the Cortina, Anglia and Zodiac companies some sixty years ago. Not once is there any mention of the lamentable product reliability and any corporate efforts to improve it. Instead, fantasy rules. Luckily for them, JLR’s (or is it Range Rover, Defender, Discovery, Jaguar, I really cannot work it out) well-heeled customers usually have a spare BMW or Merc to drive when the Rangey cacks in the mansion driveway.
I think this company(s) is on the way out. They’re eating shrooms and having “visions”.
Enough, I need a mug of tea and a ham sandwich. Whew, that visit to JLR virtual reality really got to me. If that company wants to espand, sell more product and prosper, in my view, they need much better-trained dealer technicians. The products are stuffed to the gills with electronic systems the techs cannot properly handle when they misbehave. Anyone can reset a system and send m’lord on his way, but when they come back five minutes later with the same problem and nobody has a clue how to fix it, you’ve got a problem. Multiply by the thousands of asset-rich time-poor customers taking a fling for the first time on an on-the-surface sharp-looking JLR product, and who’ll never return because JLR cannot organize its way out of a wet paper bag, the company’s future is not bright. Fuzzy-wuzzy flights of fancy have nothing to do with reality. But when you put a designer in charge, what can we expect? That silly designer bloke Wagener had Mercedes going off into fantasyland, but they’ve quieted him down considerably of late. Tata needs to do the same with this McGovern “professor”, tout de suite, before he scuppers their investment completely. There’s no rule anywhere that says a designer makes a great businessman, but I understand that in matters of reverential self-esteem, this chap Gerry takes a back seat to no one. So no point asking him if he thinks this new Reimagine scheme isn’t totally brilliant. Now, where are the customers?