JLR continues to work towards addressing the wider issues around future transport with its urban concept vehicle, Project Vector.
THE FUTURE OF MOBILITYJaguar Land Rover has unveiled a bold new concept vehicle, Project Vector, as part of the company’s Destination Zeromission – an ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Its four-metre long advanced multi-use electric car is designed for the city, and is ‘autonomy-ready’ to offer JLR’s vision of connected urban mobility.
The Project Vector concept has been developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre with close collaboration between academic and external partners. It addresses wider issues of future transport, from how customers connect with mobility services, to the infrastructure required to enable fully integrated, autonomous vehicles in our cities.
JLR sees urban travel in the future to be a combination of owned and shared vehicles, allowing access to ride hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport. Its vision shows the Project Vector will be a flexible part of that network that can be adapted for different purposes. Says project director Dr Tim Leverton, “With the technology and engineering power of Jaguar Land Rover, we can provide a unique opportunity for innovators to develop highly functional urban mobility services, seamlessly integrated into everyday life.”
The compact city car packages all its battery and drivetrain components into a flat floor so that the revolutionary interior cabin space can allow seating configurations for private or shared use and has the opportunity for commercial applications, such as last-mile deliveries. Project Vector’s chief engineer Prof Dr Gero Kempf, says, “It’s a unique opportunity – a concept platform designed and engineered by a major car maker as a blank canvas for developing tailored services and apps in the ecosystem of a smart city.”
In the immediate future, JLR intends to work with the Coventry City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority to plan a mobility service from late 2021, developing a ‘living laboratory’ for future transport on Coventry’s streets.
Ralf Speth, JLR’s CEO, explains, “Jaguar Land Rover understands the trends shaping modern societies. Through this project, we are collaborating with the brightest minds in academia, supply chain and digital services to create connected, integrated mobility systems – the fundamental building blocks for Destination Zero. Project Vector is precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission.”
If you live in or travel to Coventry towards the end of next year, you might come across a rather unusual vehicle travelling the city’s streets. It’s four metres long, very glassy, has a wheel at each corner and may well be symmetrical not only from side-to-side, but front-to-rear too. It’s an electric urban mobility vehicle produced by Jaguar Land Rover, and looks like nothing we have ever seen from either of these brands.
PRODUCED BY JAGUAR LAND ROVER, IT LOOKS LIKE NOTHING WE HAVE EVER SEEN FROM EITHER OF THESE BRANDS
Other versions of this all-electric, autonomy-ready vehicle differ in style from front to rear and do not feature the sizeable twin sliding side doors of the fully symmetrical version, but all are the progeny of Project Vector, a new-car development programme run separately from Jaguar and Land Rover’s mainstream new-model development process, the aim being to explore the future of urban mobility. More widely, Project Vector is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s bigger ambition of achieving zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion with its cars.
Ridding the car of its environmental, human and overcrowding costs is a goal JLR shares with both Toyota and Volvo, and it is also far from the first manufacturer to showcase conceptual pods that will silently cart urban dwellers about. What’s interesting here, though, is that Vector’s skateboard chassis, its batteries, motors and inverters packed into a flat-floored platform, is claimed to be sufficiently developed that examples will be operating on public roads in 18 months time, JLR boss Sir Ralf Speth revealing the project has been underway for some years.
The project is being developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) in Warwick and has been treated as a startup company, the aim being to vest it with the freedom and agility of a new small company, as well as the scope to harness academic thinking and contributions from external partners. The project also emulates a start-up in that it will be seeking funds from outsiders to supplement JLR’s investment.
Speth explains that, “Jaguar Land Rover understands the trends shaping modern societies. Project Vector shows Jaguar Land Rover as a leader in innovation to make our societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Through this project, we are collaborating with the brightest minds in academia, supply chain and digital services to create connected, integrated mobility systems – the fundamental building blocks for Destination Zero. Project Vector is precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission.”
Project Vector is led by Dr Tim Leverton, an eminent engineer who has previously worked with JCB, Rolls-Royce and Tata. He believes, “The megatrends of urbanisation and digitalisation make connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable. Shared and private vehicles will share spaces and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on-demand and autonomously. Future urban transport will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, access to ride-hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport. Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted to different purposes.”
What Project Vector doesn’t show is how a Jaguar or a Land Rover urban mobility vehicle might look, the trio of Vectors JLR has presented being brand-neutral. Which has one wondering why one might get aboard a JLR mobility pod ahead of one made by, say, Nissan, or whether we would even be aware of the brand of the pod at all. Few of us know who made their local train’s railway carriages, for example. JLR has yet to reveal its thoughts here, but presumably its pods would present the world of each brand, and be designed accordingly. They would be mobile adverts, in effect, for motoring between cities rather than within them.
But if a pod lets you step into the world of a brand, why not stretch that beyond cars and have pods themed by Harrods, Bose sound systems, a hotel chain, a theme park and so on? Suddenly, your dull intra-urban commute might turn a lot more colourful.
The brand battle for urban mobility is on its way, and it’s likely to be a tough one for car-makers, tougher even, than the switch to electric power. The good news for lovers of Jaguars and Land Rovers is that their maker is deep into exploring this world.