Chief spells out JLR's investment in green technologies
When the Birmingham Post interviewed JLR boss David Smith we asked him whether he felt that the company was a major contributor to the development of new automotive technologies and eco-friendly vehicles.
He said: “Yes, in many ways. We invest about £400 million a year in research and development (R&D) so we are getting on for half of all the UK’s automotive R&D.
“We have two centres here at Gaydon and at Coventry and we have got thousands of very skilled engineers working on new technologies.
“We are just about to launch two products in the next few months with fuel economy figures over 40 miles per gallon – the new 3-litre XF, a tremendous vehicle, and the intelligent stop-start system in the Freelander which we’ve had a very good response to.
“But that is just the start. There is a whole series of new technologies beyond that. We are working, as you say, on new lighter weight materials. Jaguar has actually pioneered that with aluminium in the XK and the XJ.
“We have the new XJ coming soon which will be an absolutely stunning design, a very lightweight design, that will build on that car’s credentials as actually the greenest luxury car on the market today.
“We are working on mild hybrid systems that work with automatic transmissions, electronic power systems, power-assisted steering systems, eight-speed transmissions. Those again are going to generate fairly significant improvements in fuel economy.
“Ultimately, we are working on several technology projects for both diesel hybrids and hybrids which will combine very small engines with extended range batteries which will give really good performance in a lightweight vehicle like the XJ.
“We have got a massive programme on environmental technology investment and that will deliver, we think, about a 25 per cent improvement in our fuel economy by the mid-2012-14 period.
“But it won’t stop there. By 2020 I think we will be looking for improvements well beyond that and will be getting increasingly into electrification of vehicles as well with plug-in hybrids and extended range batteries.
“As a business we are investing in all of those things with our suppliers, with local universities and I think there is a great opportunity actually for us to develop a whole new low-carbon vehicle industry here in the UK.”