Salman Sultan, PR and Social Media Manager, Jaguar Land Rover MENA discussed the performance of Jaguar Land Rover in the region over the last twelve months and its strategic approach to electrification and automation. ArabWheels managed to secure a special interview with the young and dynamic Jaguar Land Rover PR and Social Media Manager at the Dubai International Motor Show 2019, held at the Dubai World Trade Center.
Could you tell us about your presence here at Dubai International Motorshow?
The Dubai International Motorshow 2019 is a very important event for us because it represents the regional debut of the Land Rover Defender 2020, one of the most anticipated SUVs this year. This year has also been an important one for us because we launched the new 6-cylinders ingenium petrol engine as well, which is now available on the Range Rover, is our flagship Land Rover vehicle. The consumers in the GCC requested a more fuel efficient and economic engine which is an inline-6 cylinder with 400 hp on such a beautiful SUV as the Range Rover. Regarding Jaguar, it’s been a very exciting year for us. We were the only car manufacturer to win three world car awards. We previously won at ArabWheels the “EV of the year” for I-Pace, which is an accolade we are proud of because it is the Middle-East debut of the I-Pace at the Dubai International Motorshow.
Do you think the UAE is ready for autonomous vehicles?
Autonomous driving is very large and there is a huge scale for autonomous driving capabilities. It is not whether the UAE is ready for it, it is a question of global market. But yes the UAE is ready. There are several levels of autonomous driving. The first level is similar to the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist – which we currently have in our vehicles and most competitors have it also in their vehicles. Then comes the fully autonomous vehicles or self-driving vehicles. It is still far off not only in the UAE or the west, but in the entire globe. It requires lots of government regulations, smart infrastructures for road signs communication and cars-to-car communication.
What are the challenges you might face when rolling out or encouraging the use of autonomous vehicles?
There are a lot of challenges we might face and the most important thing is knowledge. The consumer needs to know what autonomous driving is. In addition, he needs to have confidence in the vehicle and in the infrastructure in general in order to know that he can sit behind the wheel and let it drive by itself. The cars can be ready anytime but this is the major challenge we might face. We showcased recently a prototype of the Jaguar I-Pace, which one out of many autonomous vehicle in the world, and it achieved an autonomous self-driving route from Zaabeel Club to Dubai World Trade Center. So currently, all that is left is for the people to trust the whole autonomous system, acquire knowledge on it, and take safety measures which should be implemented by governments.
What are some of the cybersecurity and safety concerns that you might have regarding your autonomous cars? How Jaguar Land Rover is working to ease or solve them?
I don’t think cybersecurity issues are only affecting Jaguar Land Rover. We are one of the leaders in autonomous driving. We showcased that recently in Dubai as I said previously. However, a lot of factors and gears still need to be fixed. In terms of safety and security, we at Jaguar Land Rover take the consumer data protection as a very serious matter. We are currently working on the software deployment, which entitles customers to update the software of their Jaguar Land Rover vehicles over WiFi or 4G. In order for that to happen, we had to get a lot of safety and security approvals especially in terms of cybersecurity. We are really proud of our cybersecurity especially in the new PV system on the Land Rover Defender, which is a very secure system.
How Jaguar Land Rover sees Dubai Expo 2020?
We are very glad that Dubai has its Expo 2020 and we are looking forward to it from a corporate point of view because we believe in Dubai. Currently, we are investing lot of money in Dubai because of our new regional office to be launched early next year. It is a huge 14,000sqm facility that combines corporate, customer service, engineering, technical, training academy, sales and marketing. So we wish Dubai all the best!