On Tuesday 24 February 2015 Mike Wright, Executive Director of Jaguar Land Rover, delivered a lecture in the School of Mechanical Engineering on the subject The Automotive Industry: Investing in the Future. He told an audience of students, academics, alumni and business leader that the sector is changing more fundamentally now than at any time since the early days of its inception. Mike described a noticeable shift:
- from oil power to electric power
- from West to East – the winners in China will be the winners globally
- to driverless cars
- to cars that potentially will not crash
- to cars that will not pollute
- to greatly increased urban transport needs – with all the challenges that implies
Speaking at a joint event between the School of Mechanical Engineering and Birmingham Business School, Mike reinforced that there has never been a more exciting time to join the automotive industry due to the rate of innovation. JLR is investing accordingly, particularly in the region. Mike made clear that JRL is a Midlands car maker and proud of it:
Both our brands were born here, most of our cars are made here, and they are mostly engineered and developed here too.
JLR has recently opened a dedicated engine manufacturing centre in the region at an investment of £500 million creating unprecedented job opportunities. Mike also pointed out that integration across technologies has never been more significant. Connectivity and the speed of digital data will see the car become a mobile office, be able to book parking spaces, train tickets and restaurants. It signals the arrival of gesture control, voice actuation, and the means of communicating with other cars to avoid traffic.
The event allowed University of Birmingham students not only to hear from Mike but to meet him in person after, together with a range of Jaguar personnel including the JLR Business Manager, External Events Manager and a range of senior buyers and engineers.
Professor Simon Collinson, Dean of Birmingham Business School said:
This was a great insight into one of the most exciting and successful firms of our time. JLR shows how world-leading design and innovation is created from the integration of technological possibilities and business opportunities, led by a knowledge of what consumers desire. At Birmingham Business School we are developing research and teaching initiatives to bridge the gap between management and engineering know-how, to support the success of firms like JLR and we look forward to extending our partnership with this great company.
Professor Duc Pham, Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, added:
We thank Mike and his staff again for supporting this event. We are delighted that Mike’s lecture has reconfirmed the vital importance of manufacturing to the economic health of the nation and the key role of high-quality graduate and postgraduate engineers, such as those we produce, in driving innovation and raising competitiveness in a manufacturing enterprise.