Salman Sultan, PR and Social Media Manager, Jaguar Land Rover MENA discussed the performance of Jaguar Land Rover in the region over the last twelve months and its strategic approach to electrification and automation. ArabWheels managed to secure a special interview with the young and dynamic Jaguar Land Rover PR and Social Media Manager at the Dubai International Motor Show 2019, held at the Dubai World Trade Center.

Could you tell us about your presence here at Dubai International Motorshow?

The Dubai International Motorshow in 2019 is a very important motorshow for us; it’s been the regional debut of the Land Rover Defender 2020, one of the most anticipated SUV this year. It’s also been an important year for us because we also launched the new 6-cylinders ingenium petrol engine which is now available on the Range Rover which is our flagship Land Rover vehicle. The consumers in the GCC requested a more fuel efficient and economic engine which is an inline-6 cylinder with 400 hp on such a beautiful SUV as the Range Rover. On the Jaguar side, it’s been a very exciting year for us we were the only car manufacturer to win three world car awards. We previously won at ArabWheels the “EV of the year” for I-Pace, which an accolade we are proud of. This is the Middle-East debut of the I-Pace at the Dubai International Motorshow.

Do you think that the UAE is ready for the autonomous vehicles?

Autonomous driving is a very large and there is a huge scale for autonomous driving capabilities. It is not only if the UAE is ready for it. It is a global market in general, but yes the UAE is ready for it. There are several levels of autonomous driving; you have level 1 which is similar as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist which we currently have in our vehicles and most competitors have it also in their vehicles. As for fully autonomous vehicles or self-driving vehicles, it is still far off not only in the UAE, not only in the west but in the globe in general. You need to have lot of government regulations; you need to have smart infrastructures to communication with the road signs and the cars need to communication with each other.

What are the challenges you might face when rolling out or encouraging the use of autonomous vehicles?

There are a lot of challenges we might face and the most important thing is knowledge. The consumer needs to know what autonomous driving is, the consumer needs to have confidence in the vehicle and in the infrastructure in general to know that he can sit behind the wheel in the vehicle and let it drive by itself. The cars can be ready anytime but this is the long challenge we might face. We showcased recently a prototype Jaguar I-Pace which one out of one autonomous vehicle in the world. It did an autonomous self-driving route from Zaabeel Club to Dubai World Trade Center. So currently the autonomous system is all about the people trusting the whole system, knowledge, and safety measures to be taken by the governments.

What are some of the cybersecurity and safety concerns that you might have with your autonomous cars? How Jaguar Land Rover is working to ease or solve them?

I don’t think the cybersecurity issues are only affecting Jaguar Land Rover. We are one of the leaders in autonomous driving. We showcased that recently in Dubai as I said previously but there are lot of factors and gears running behind that need to be fixed. In terms of safety and security, we at Jaguar Land Rover take the consumer data protection as a very serious matter. We are currently rolling out the software deployment this year, which means our customers, can update the software of their Jaguar Land Rover vehicles over WiFi or 4G. In order for that to happen, you can imagine we have internally had to get through a lot of safety and security especially in cybersecurity approval. We are really proud of our cybersecurity especially in the new PV system on the Land Rover Defender, which is a very secure system.

How Jaguar Land Rover see Dubai Expo 2020?

We are very glad that Dubai has its Expo 2020 and we are looking forward to it from a corporate point of view because we believe in Dubai. We are investing lot of money in Dubai currently with our new regional office that will be launched early next year: 14,000sqm is a huge facility that combines corporate, customer service, engineering, technical, training academy, sales and marketing. So we wish Dubai all the best!