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Auto blogSun, 17 Aug 2014 17:45:00 EST
It's only been a couple of months since Jaguar Land Rover announced the formation of its new Special Operations division, and we've already seen a number of vehicles to come out of it. But now the British automaker has announced a new facility that will house its elite skunkworks department.
Set to be built at Prologis Park in Ryton, England, on the outskirts of Coventry, the new Special Vehicle Operations Technical Centre will encompass dedicated production lines, F1-style flexible workshops, a dedicated paint studio and VIP suite for commissioning bespoke projects. JLR will spend some $33 million on the facility that will be home to 150 specialists - 100 of them being new hires.
The first project which the Special Operations division is working on is the F-Type Project 7, but we've already seen more projects in the pipeline - including the upcoming Range Rover Sport SVR - and you can bet there'll be more. The revival of the Lightweight E-Type also falls under Special Operations, but is undertaken by the Jaguar Heritage department located nearby at Browns Lane.
Since buying Jaguar Land Rover, Indian automaker Tata has generally left its luxury arm's platforms and technology alone. However, those days might be gone. The two of them are gradually growing closer with coordinated development and rumors of shared platforms. And it looks like all of that work and money is finally going to pay off with an actual vehicle in the near future.
According to Australian website Drive, Tata wants to make its cars more attractive to buyers outside of India, and to do that the company knows it must improve quality. The Indian company is being careful, though, because it doesn't want to dilute the Jaguar or Land Rover brands with cheap models. "You're going to see in the future a lot of sharing of technologies and platforms over time, but you won't see a JLR with a Tata badge on it," said Darren Bowler, managing director of Tata's Australian distributor, to Drive.
According to Bowler, these future vehicles are already on the way. Tata and JLR have a global platform in the works for 2017 that both companies could use for cars or crossovers. He also hinted that Jaguar's new Ingenium engines could be shared among the brands in the future, too.
Nearly every major business is collecting consumer data these days, and keeping that data secure has come to the forefront of many customer's minds. Jaguar Land Rover North America's decision to begin requesting more customer info from its dealer network appears unfortunately timed, however. If it had come a few years ago, it might have been ignored, but in today's climate of heightened awareness, a few dealers are pushing back. To put the showrooms in an even tougher position, JLR NA is threatening to deny quarterly incentives if they do not turn over the customer data, according to Automotive News.
JLR NA instated the nationwide plan, which it calls Single View CRM, on February 7, but according to Stuart Schorr, Jaguar Land Rover North America Vice President of Communications, the automaker has been negotiating with its dealers to institute the new program for over a year. Schorr tells Autoblog that no financial information is being shared, noting that such data is limited to customer details, including things like what vehicles they own and whether they have any pending service. The initiative is meant to "improve customers' and owners' engagement with the brand," he said. Also, the company is not accessing dealer data itself; instead showrooms are asked to enter the info into JLR's database.