The word ‘experience’ functions as both a Noun and a Verb and the definition for the former is ‘practical contact with, and observation of, facts or events’ and for the latter, ‘encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence)’ – truly fitting descriptors of the new Jaguar Land Rover Experience recently opened in Johannesburg.
The opening is the culmination of a R1,3-billion investment in South Africa from the British company, demonstrating a commitment not only to business but also customers, employees, the environment and the future of motoring in our market.
“Though the process has taken place over a few years and may not be visible as a single outlay, we have successfully facelifted Jaguar Land Rover’s entire business in South Africa,” says Richard Gouverneur, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa.
“We have modernised every function of our company, from the look and feel of our dealerships, to the way we engage with customers and the training our staff receives. The vehicles we offer are cutting-edge, and our customer engagement model needs to be too.”
The way consumers buy cars is evolving so the ways in which products are presented need to change with the times. The revamped Experience Johannesburg facility in Lonehill offers more than just static displays of shiny new metal. The R100-million investment gives customers a glimpse of both the heritage and the lifestyles that come with the Jaguar and Land Rover brands respectively.
“Jaguar Land Rover Experience Johannesburg allows a fully immersive look into our world. This new facility is like a playground for people and cars with connected technologies to amplify the experience.Whether you’re looking for a full day driving course in one of our vehicles or just a family lunch, I’d like to personally invite everyone to come and visit.”
While the core proposition of Experience Johannesburg is a range of driving experiences in any one of Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicles on a variety of skidpans, handling tracks and off-road obstacles, the facility actually offers much more. An exquisite restaurant is open to the public for breakfast and lunch, corporates are invited to hire a 52-seater cinema for product launches and a range of flexible board rooms is available for meetings.
Individual hi-tech Jaguar and Land Rover configurator studios feature interactive touchscreens and material displays so visitors can devise endless combinations of dream cars and see them come to life digitally. Even kids of all ages are catered for with miniature race tracks and off-road courses to be experienced, for free, in electric ride-on Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.
“Conventional dealerships continue to play a critical role in our business, and substantial investment has been made across our retailer network in the past few years,”adds Gouverneur. “In 2014 we began the rollout of significant upgrades, not only to our South African dealerships, but throughout sub-Sahara Africa too. These upgrades are visible across most of our retailer network today delivering a premium retail experience to our customers”.
More than R970-million has been spent upgrading Jaguar Land Rover dealerships. The upgrades bring local franchises up to a standard shared with the brand’s counterparts all over the world.
Back-of-house investment is also key. A business cannot operate effectively without the development of skills so dealer and technician training is crucial. Jaguar Land Rover spent R57-million on training personnel in 2018 and expects to spend another R55-million this year.
“As the vehicles we offer evolve so does the knowledge needed to sell, maintain and repair them. Never more so than right now. An electrified future brings with it an entirely new skillset for Jaguar Land Rover employees and we’re preparing all our retail staff and technicians with the expertise needed for the e-mobility revolution”.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr Ralf Speth announced in 2017 that every new model line in the brand’s offering will be electrified from 2020. Customers will have a choice of fully-electric (EV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or mild-hybrid (MHEV) drivetrains in any Jaguar Land Rover product from next year.
“Electric cars aren’t coming. They’re already here,”says Gouverneur. “Jaguar’s first all-electric car, the I-PACE, as well as plug-in hybrid Range Rovers are already available in South Africa. There’s a belief that the concept of electrification cannot work in our market, but I assure you it can. It must.”
With an accelerated uptake of EVs in the global market, South Africa must adapt or face the possibility of far fewer vehicle choices.
“As the markets we source our cars from, namely Europe and Asia, move toward electric vehicles, South Africa must move with them,” says Gouverneur. “It’s predicted within six years EVs will make up 11% of all vehicles sold globally, and if South Africa follows the trend it could mean more than 145 000 EVs in our market by then. By 2040 it’s expected that EVs will make up 55% of all vehicles sold, surpassing internal combustion engine cars.”
An initial investment of more than R30-million saw Jaguar Land Rover install more than 80 public charging stations in partnership with GridCars across South Africa last year. The Jaguar Powerway, as it’s called, comprises public chargers at every Jaguar Land Rover dealership nationwide as well as at various points of convenience such as motorway rest stops and shopping centres in city hubs.
“Most Jaguar I-PACE owners will charge at home where it’s cheaper and more convenient. But this Powerway network provides peace of mind to our customers who can now experience more of their world without range anxiety. This investment shows we’re serious about the future of e-mobility, and the future of South Africa.”