the car industries coolest brand…?

I received this email from our co-blogger here, regarding a design talk given some months ago by current head of Advanced Design at Jaguar, Julian Thompson. It relates to the CX-17 crossover concept, and also gives us clues to the deep rooted changes in Jaguar management that have enabled the design-led (Apple like?!) resurgence of this great brand. Thompson and Ian Callum have fully vindicated the new management’s confidence in them, surely?

Julian Thompson at the talk pointed out that Jag were stuck in a rut. Ford had transformed the quality and reliability of the products but they had stuck to the same look. This was because Ford used ‘consumer focus groups’ where they asked the consumer, the customer, what they wanted. Even worse Thompson pointed out they did this in the USA as that was Jags biggest market at the time. So what did the consumer say they wanted? Well as they were mainly 55 year old company directors they wanted the cars to STAY THE SAME, to LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME as the previous model. Jag listened, and the S-Type, previous XJ and X-Type were born. Sales figures went from bad to worse. Average consumer age went from bad to worse too! Or at least didn’t improve. Profits evaporated.

The new management threw this out of the window.

The next bit I am adding myself, as Thompson didn’t say it:

I believe they decided to look at what consumers are actually DOING rather than what they were saying. What they were DOING was buying super modern, sporty, diesel BMWs.

So this spawned the XF (commercial, diesel) and the new XJ (stunning modernity) and what happened? They sold THREE TIMES as many XFs as S-Types and now look at Jag! Making profit and storming on to be one of THE hottest brands on the planet. Even if you include any brand, not just cars, Jaguar is COOL. The F-Type has already sold 1000 units within 2 months!!! Despite the high price.



2 responses to “the car industries coolest brand…?”

  1. The trouble is they have done this by aping the style of Aston Martin, or just because Ian Cullum can’t draw any other shapes! The F type is a particularly incoherent design. They also dumped the ‘face’ that says Jag when you see it in your mirror, the small oval rad as in Mk 2, in favour of a generic square grille that could be any one of several cars! Yes I know they are selling cars, but I am not a fan!


    1. The “face” that says jag was hopelessly out of date and does not work on a modern car shape. The current jaguar grille is not square, it’s actually carefully rounded and suggestive of the sportier E-Type, and even XJ6. Think about it this way, it’s not so much that Callum can only draw one shape, it’s that 100s of years of automotive design has shaped our brains to accept that particular form as aesthetically pleasing. It can be seen in many cars, such as the Ferrari California, Maserati GT, or even a Mazda 6, or current Ford Mondeo? Ford are really aping the entire Aston Martin look currently for example, now that inter-brand politics are removed thanks to them selling off Aston. Basically- the sentiment that designers must act on what customers are DOING and not what they are saying is the key point here. Callum is a great designer, and it’s a very hard job to push things forward just the right amount, at just the right time. Some customers will be left behind, but if you replace every lost (old, literally) customer with 3 new ones (younger, with a longer life-span?!)… shareholders are going to be very happy.

      Great design (and designers) have always fed from each other, served the fashions and tastes in every era. Surely you can’t deny that for example a 1960s E-Type bears a strong resemblance to a 1960s Ferrari, a 250GT California for example?


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