COVENTRY, England - Jaguar's new advanced design center will open in the first quarter of 2000. It will be called the Lawson Building, named after the late Geoff Lawson, Jaguar's design chief who conceived the idea.
Lawson felt Jaguar designers were so busy working on production projects such as the S-Type and the X400 'baby Jag' they didn't have time to think ahead and create concepts for future models. The new center will remedy that.
'It will have 15 or so designers and modelers,' said Ian Callum, Jaguar's new design chief. 'It will be a close-knit, efficient studio that will turn out quite a bit of effective work, I hope.'
Jaguar continues to upgrade design and styling capability at its Whitley center here in the English midlands. It already has improved its computer operations and added two multiaxis milling machines, which can create a full-size clay or resin model of a car based on computer data.
'It's a way of validating electronic data we capture from car design,' said Mike Lawrence, business director of product development at Whitley.
The Lawson Building is one of numerous site-improvement projects under way at Whitley. The center has been steadily expanding to match Jaguar's growth into a full-line global luxury brand.
Jaguar has spent about euro 80 million ($80.5 million) at Whitley over the past several years.
It has added more than 200 employees per year. The center now employs about 1,700 people.
In addition to design, Jaguar uses Whitley for vehicle and chassis development, electrical and electronic systems, and powertrains.
Jaguar also has increased the number of engine test beds at Whitley and added an anechoic chamber for vehicle noise and vibration testing. An anechoic chamber provides the ideal environment for such testing, as it neither has nor produces echoes.
The improvements at Whitley have given Jaguar a 'world class product development center' on a par with any other manufacturer, said Lawrence.