15WHITLEY, England - Jaguar will move into areas of the automotive market that have yet to be defined, says Wolfgang Reitzle, head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group.
Reitzle was speaking at the opening of Jaguar's new advanced design facility here in the English midlands.
The new facility is called the Geoff Lawson Studio after the former Jaguar styling director who died last year. It is located alongside Jaguar's main design and engineering center.
The new studio is headed by Julian Thomson, who styled the Lotus Elise. Thomson reports to Ian Callum, Jaguar's director of design.
Lawson wanted the center to focus on extending the Jaguar brand, and to work on concept car projects that were not subject to the same pressure and deadlines as production cars.
Jaguar is just one of the brands in Ford's Premier Automotive Group. The others are Aston Martin, Land Rover, Volvo and Lincoln.
'We want to move with the Jaguar brand into concepts that have not even been identified today,' said Reitzle. 'We want to exploit the growth potential of the Jaguar brand in new segments.
'Although we won't say yet what these niches are,' he said, 'we will make sure that the new models have a perfect fit with the brand identity. They will be fascinating, extraordinary and unconventional.'
Callum said it is the job of Thomson and his team to look at new design concepts and market niches.
'Though far removed from the Jaguars of today or even tomorrow, they could be realities for Jaguar's long-term future,' he said.
The new studio cost about A3.2 million to develop. It covers 1,080 square meters and comprises of one large working room; a presentation area with turntable to display cars; a conference room; a workshop; and storage and utility rooms. A paint shop will be added by end of this year.
The studio is equipped with state-of-the-art styling and modeling technologies. It has 30 employees, of which 12 are currently designers.
Although surrounded by the latest technology, the designers will not forget Jaguar's craftsmanship tradition.
'We will deliver a masterpiece with every new Jaguar model,' said Reitzle. 'There will be a special harmony between aesthetics and technology, and a great perfection in detail.'
Reitzle said Jaguar would have to balance function and aesthetics a lot more in the future.
'I have to admit that, with the brand's emotional approach, it is tempting to neglect functionality,' he said. 'But this is wrong. If one doesn't meet the minimum requirements of functionality you immediately pay the bill in lower sales figures. We want our customers to enjoy using their cars every day, and not just appreciate it for its beautiful exterior design.'
Reitzle is a strong believer in the design rule of 'form follows function' and dislikes any gimmicks.
'In the future we should communicate the beauty of a design via its function,' he said. 'It will be Jaguar's special flair to carry out functionality in stunning beauty.'
Despite these comments, there are a few design elements Reitzle is not willing to give up in future Jaguars.
'A long hood and long, arrow-shaped overhangs at the front and rear are typical styling elements of Jaguar,' he said. 'Also the grille, rounded headlamps and clock-style instruments are essential.'
Jaguar will carry on using luxury leather and wood for its interiors, Reitzle said. But he added: 'More avant garde materials such as carbon fiber will also find increasing use in Jaguar models.'