Land Rivers Terrain-Based Speed Adaption (TBSA) uses cameras to sense bumpy terrain including uneven and undulating surfaces and washboard roads, potholes and even standing water. It can then predict the potential impact of these surfaces on the car’s ride and automatically adjust speed to keep passengers comfortable.

Land River's Terrain-Based Speed Adaption (TBSA) uses cameras to sense bumpy terrain including uneven and undulating surfaces and washboard roads, potholes and even standing water. It can then predict the potential impact of these surfaces on the car’s ride and automatically adjust speed to keep passengers comfortable.

Separated at dual retailers, Jaguar and Land Rover both benefit from the manufacturer's increasing autonomy – and the prospect of autonomous vehicles, says Ray Hutton.

The surprising thing about Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is how together it is. 'One company, two brands' has been the dictum since Tata Motors bought the business from Ford in 2008. Although JLR was quick to integrate engineering, manufacturing, and most back-office functions, it was regarded as essential to keep separate the design, sales and marketing of the two brands.

The sales and design chiefs – Adrian Hallmark and Ian Callum for Jaguar, John Edwards and Gerry McGovern – sat on the executive committee, the JLR management board. Today, the designers still jealously guard their own studios but Hallmark and Edwards have corporate roles: Hallmark is Group Strategy Director and Edwards runs the fast-expanding JLR Special Vehicle Operations. Andy Goss presides over sales and marketing for both brands, worldwide.

In overseas territories, where in many cases it was starting from scratch, it was logical to appoint dealers to represent both brands. With the two together, JLR's offering would, in time, begin to match the diverse ranges of its rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But in the UK there were two long-established retail networks and combining them seemed to present a problem – and could be counter-productive.

Quietly, in the background, Jeremy Hicks, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover UK since 2011, had a team working on how to integrate the two brands at the retail level. The first step was to encourage common ownership of the dealers in the same town or area. A requirement to invest heavily – between GBP2m and GBP15m in facilities as part of a new corporate identity programme – concentrated the minds of some of the smaller dealers. Deals were done, dealerships bought and sold. JLR has now achieved more than 90% common ownership, with just 35 owners for the current 201 sites.

'The Arch'

The next stage is to put Jaguar and Land Rover under one roof. This programme is called 'The Arch' and involves a new or remodelled dealership, with two showrooms of equal size separated by a central reception area; turn left for Jaguar, right for Land Rover. Hicks expects 80% of UK dealers to comply by the end of 2018.

The original plan for combined dealers was to display the whole JLR range together, as the German brands do. But research showed that there is not much cross-shopping between Jaguar and Land Rover and that a separate, dedicated sales team with specialised knowledge of each brand is more effective.

'The Arch' is being introduced worldwide, including in the US, where Jaguar and Land Rover dealers were previously very different in style and location. In the wide open country of America, Land Rover outlets often had off-road courses attached. Some UK dealers also had rough-road obstacle tracks to demonstrate vehicles but these are now being replaced by seven Land Rover Experience Centres around the country. There is also a plan to offer a high-speed driving experience to Jaguar customers; JLR is currently negotiating a long-term lease on Silverstone race circuit.

So the way of handling customers – the deals, the extras, and the opportunities – is slightly different for the two brands, befitting their separation in the dual dealerships. Of course, that separation also avoids direct side-by-side comparison of increasingly similar products – the F-Pace and other forthcoming Jaguar SUV/crossovers and Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover models.

According to Hicks, 90% of the initial orders for F-Pace were conquests, replacing cars other than Jaguars and Land Rovers. But in a car market that is becoming dominated by SUVs and crossovers of all shapes and sizes, the distinction between marques will inevitably become more blurred. Jaguar designers argue that the F-Pace has a more graceful, car-like style than Land Rovers but the Discovery Sport and the next full-size Discovery (expected at the Paris Motor Show in September) also manage to combine clean, smooth lines with the off-road versatility that made the brand famous.

JLR heading for 20% volume growth in 2016 and a new record

Worldwide, JLR is on track to sell about 580,000 cars this year, a 20% increase on its 2015 record. While expanding production at its three factories in the UK, and bringing plants in China and Brazil on stream, JLR is also becoming more self-contained. It has extended its aluminium body structure technology to every car in the renewed Jaguar range and all new Land Rovers except for the Evoque and Discovery Sport. The Ingenium engine range, produced in a purpose-built plant in Wolverhampton, is now its mainstay, replacing all the four-cylinder Ford diesels.

Production of the 2-litre petrol Ingenium will start by the end of the year. This had been expected to go down the same production line as the diesel – and so be launched at the same time - but it soon became clear that it would be more efficient to make it in a separate assembly hall; the diesel engine is more complex and to run them together would have meant some work-stations being idle as the petrol engines came through.

A recent visit to Wolverhampton saw that another new building is under construction which will double the workspace (to 200,000 sq m). There is no word from JLR about what will be made there (an announcement is expected at the end of this year) but a replacement for the Ford-sourced V6 engines is the obvious candidate.

Building a new engine plant was described by one of the managers as 'a once in a generation thing'. Tata's GBP1bn investment in Wolverhampton is not only an indication of its long-term commitment to JLR in Britain but also shows its determination to build an independent car maker in the pattern of BMW, the alma mater of so many of JLR's senior executives.

Advanced tech being addressed

So you don't hear Ralf Speth and his colleagues yearning for projects and platforms to share with other car makers. JLR maintains a huge (for its size) R&D budget - GBP12bn over five years – and is confident of meeting future emissions regulations without the need to offset its premium products against small-engined eco-cars. Where it is joining forces, it is with suppliers, government agencies and academic institutions, to participate in and keep abreast of developments in electronics, connectivity, and autonomous vehicle technology.

JLR can't and doesn't claim to be the leader in that field – Mercedes and others have been working on it for years – but a recent demonstration at the company's Gaydon proving ground did reveal a couple of world 'firsts', which, appropriately for Land Rover, brought elements of the autonomous vehicle to off-road conditions.

Surface ID uses ultrasonic sensors (like those for parking assistance but pointing down) to scan the terrain 5m in front of the vehicle and compare the reflected signals with a database of surface conditions. It can identify sand, gravel, grass, and snow and decide on the optimum setting for the vehicle's Terrain Response Control, thus preserving momentum and control.

Terrain-Based Speed Adaption (TBSA) is an off-road cruise control which uses a stereo camera system to scan the route 30m ahead and, by combining with steering and suspension inputs, adjust the speed (up to 30 mph) for safe and comfortable progress.

A further series of prototypes showed the benefits of vehicle connectivity, on and off the road, and these will be used as part of a fleet of 100 JR vehicles to test and develop a range of technologies in the real world, on a 40-mile route around Coventry and Solihull, JLR's homeland.

No-one is quite sure where these technologies will lead – JLR is insistent that 'autonomous does not mean driverless' – but as it gradually builds up production to rival the premium car establishment, it is making sure that it isn't left behind. The intention is clear: whether you choose a Jaguar or a Land Rover, it will be up to speed.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more