Friday, 27 March 2015

Rogers heads up JLR’s global engineering

Nick Rogers takes over as engineering director at JaguarLandRover (JLR) from 1 April.

Rogers will have board-level responsibilities for JLR’s global engineering operations, reporting directly to Chief Executive Dr Ralf Speth.

His appointment comes at a critical time in the life of the company as it expands its manufacturing operations overseas. It will be important to stamp the JLR seal on all the products that emerge from operations which are many miles away from the engineering bases of Whitley and Gaydon, and the new National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) at Warwick.

Rogers takes over from Dr Wolfgand Ziebart who will stand down from the role of engineering director. Dr Ziebart will continue to work with JLR, focusing on technology development.

It will be recalled Dr. Zeibart joined JLR in July 2013 from BMW where he had spent 23 years in engineering and manufacturing roles.

As such he carried – and still does carry – the BMW ethos into JLR, and he has been partly responsible to projecting that ethos into the JLR culture, especially as his latter time at BMW was spent as platform leader for the BMW 3-series which is seen by many as a unique benchmark model, and certainly the benchmark for the Jaguar XE.

Now as JLR further entrenches into the US, China, India and elsewhere, Rogers will play a key role in unifying and harmonising the engineering effort and their impact on manufacturing. This is vitally important in the area of maintaining standards, both in terms of vehicles leaving the door but also in the engineering and manufacturing effort at a human level.

Having now effectively established ‘ground zero’ with its three UK body manufacturing plants – Castle Bromwich, Halewood and Solihull – the new engine manufacturing facility at Wolverhampton, which potentially has the capacity (when extended) to meet all JLR powertrain sourcing requirements for some time to come; as well as the three engineering centres at Gaydon, Whitley and NAIC Warwick, the company is now anxious to fully implement its overseas manufacturing strategy with the same intensity and completeness to become a ‘world force’ in vehicle design and manufacture.

Rogers has a unique opportunity to add his own dimension to the various operations as they gain momentum, especially as an intrinsic element of the migration outwards from the UK of ‘knowhow’ will be in bringing vendors along the journey at the same pace – both components and manufacturing technology.

It will be an exciting time for Rogers who, with 30 years under his belt at JLR, is fully aware of where the company has come from and, through his association with those who have been and are now in charge, where the company is heading.

Evidence of the rate of change of progress can be seen in the figures: In the past five years, Jaguar Land Rover has tripled its turnover – and more than doubled its sales and its workforce.

Likewise, JLR employs 8,000 engineers and technologists based at two UK product development centres at Gaydon and Whitley, and an Advanced Research Centre at the University of Warwick.

It is one of the UK's largest exporters and generates in the region of 85 per cent of its revenue from exports. JLR’s turnover has almost trebled to £19.4 billion in its financial year ending 31st March 2014, compared with a turnover of £6.6 billion in the fiscal year ending 31st March 2010.

Rogers is aware of the expectations made of employees these past five years – and can imagine what is expected again in the future. The rolling stone will not be expected to stop.

Key among the products that are near the top of his list will be the new Defender and its place of manufacture – which may already have been decided. The company is likely to continue the ‘old’ Defender when production runs out at the end of this year. It is an ideal product to manufacture in countries such as India or even China. And the quality will not be allowed to slip just because it is an 'old' product.

Its replacement will follow in the footsteps of technology laid down with XE and XF, namely greater use of aluminium body-in-white technology. This will further the application of self-piercing rivet (SPR) technology as well as other joining techniques demanded by use of aluminium.

Commenting on the new appointment, Dr Ralf Speth: “Nick has worked for Jaguar Land Rover for more than 30 years; he has broad experience across engineering, manufacturing and product delivery. His experience, skills, passion and dedication to Jaguar Land Rover will make him a great leader for the engineering team. I wish him every success in leading the teams that are creating the new Jaguar and Land Rover advanced technologies and vehicles of the future.”

Dr Ziebart has led the engineering team through a period of continued growth as JLR has expanded its product range.

Dr Ralf Speth added: “I would like to thank Wolfgang for his stewardship, counsel and advice through this period and I look forward to his on-going involvement with the business.”

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