What will Gerry McGovern do at Jaguar? It’s the hottest question in British car design circles since January, when the creative, combative and determined McGovern was elevated to the new role of Creative Director at Jaguar Land Rover by CEO Thierry Bolloré, he – even after four months of work.
While the Englishman was previously only responsible for Land Rover design (a job he did both brilliantly and commercially), he would now also be a key figure in Jaguar’s future – a brand much more troubled and much less successful.
Weeks after McGovern’s promotion, Bollore shocked the auto world with a radical global change plan at JLR called Reimagine. He proposed a progressive path for Land Rover but huge changes for Jaguar.
By 2025, Sir William Lyons’ famous marque would drop most of its lineup in favor of a family of smaller, all-electric, non-SUV cars built on a new platform. It would even kill the yet-to-launch XJ electric limousine, a flagship of the previous management’s way.
The floodgates of speculation have opened wide. If Jaguar sedans weren’t selling and SUVs weren’t the future, what would post-2025 models look like? Was the 86-year-old sports and prestige car brand about to move to production margins digitally, like Aston Martin and Bentley? Jaguar, despite all its proud history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, could it still qualify as a sports car manufacturer? What would be done now with the proud heritage of the 40s to 70s so often used to underpin the present of the company? McGovern was suddenly at the center of such decisions.
Like a few hundred other media, Autocar has requested an interview. Unlike most, we were successful last week enjoying an exclusive and candid 50 minute conversation with him almost entirely on Jaguar matters. Land Rover was hardly mentioned; after all, with the much-acclaimed new Defender just launched, a revolutionary new Range Rover out of the box, and a series of electrified models already planned, the SUV maker’s future looks bright.
In encounters like this, the first question can often be difficult to formulate, but this time it was easy: was it the arrival of Bolloré that sparked the shift of Jaguar into electric vehicles and McGovern himself. was he even implied in this decision? “You have to take a few steps back,” McGovern replies cautiously. “Naturally, our whole board had thought a lot about the future of Jaguar, even before Thierry arrived.
“Thierry brought a new state of mind, a new understanding of the luxury sector – maybe because he’s Parisian. Jaguar’s main future differentiator, he said, was to be exceptional desirability. The change to electric vehicles was significant, but it was happening to us anyway. Desirability would make the difference, and we had to continue to achieve it. “
The obvious connection here – and arguably the reason why McGovern was given his more important job – is that since returning to Land Rover in 2004, he has become increasingly adept at creating desirability in cars.
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This notice was published: 2021-04-17 05:01:24