Branding could play an important part of JLR’s connectivity offering, Nick Castle told Paul Myles.

Connectivity in a car can be an offering that plays to brand image just like any other traditional accessory.

That’s the view of Nick Castle customer service director at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Europe who believes the consumer wants to enjoy the brand experience right through the vehicle ownership journey. Speaking to TU-Automotive, Castle said: “We are currently looking at a lots of partnerships to ensure that what we offer, whether from internal expertise or external expertise, it all revolves around the customers’ needs.

“We are quite conscious that at the moment JLR customers like things to be clearly branded either Jaguar or Land Rover, whether that’s merchandise or accessories such as a roof rack. They have bought, say, a Jaguar and they don’t want another brand stuck into that experience. I believe that shows the customer that we have confidence in whatever we are recommending for them by saying ‘This meets our standards’. This will apply to connectivity too.”

Castle also stressed that JLR wants to be a leader in the new technology ‘revolution’, whether it’s with electrified powertrains, connectivity or autonomous driving features. Expanding on the point, he said: “The important thing for us with any new technology is that customers are aware of these new products, the benefits they will derive from it and how to be part of this new revolution. The EV revolution has already been established and with our new model out next year, we believe we are the first premium sportscar manufacturer, outside of Tesla, to be making such an offering.”

While acknowledging that the consumer’s reception of connectivity features has, thus far, been somewhat lukewarm, Castle said the challenge for carmakers is to make the technology relevant on a very personal level. Asked how this could be achieved he said he was not at liberty to give examples of upcoming JLR projects but that: “This is the question everyone is asking themselves right now. It’s especially relevant given that the traditional revenue streams from servicing and maintenance will fall away with the advance of EVs. So we need to find new ways to appeal to consumers and to maximise the lifecycle value of the ownership period. This starts with putting the customer first and the offerings have to be things that the customer opts-in to have.

“At the same time, we have to be sure that we are not using any user data in a way that could be seen as cold-selling to the customer based on their habits. We want to be very transparent just as the consumer’s data is transparent. So we see the secret of monetising this technology is to bring it down to a very personalised level for the consumer. It’s important to realise that the customer is as connected as the car. At the moment the two are in parallel universes so to be able to bring them together in a single interface.”

Castle also added that while branding is important, it cannot be allowed to interfere with the consumer experience which had to be kept as simple and accessible as possible. He concluded:

“The difference may be that I, as a consumer, do not want lots of different interfaces because I want technology that can make my life simpler and easier. Dr Ralph Speth, our CEO mentioned, this at the JLR Tech Fest in London where he talked quite a bit about how we see the interface in your car will be something you take into your home. Much in the same way as Alexa is in your home, your pocket and also you car.

“Clearly, behind the scenes, this will involve a lot of partners and we are not going to get into the business of smartphones but what we want is the Jaguar or Land Rover customer to be able to enjoy a seamless connectivity whether in their car or their home to make their life easier.”

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