Jaguar Land Rover today announced a new Special Operations division, tasked with launching 'extraordinary, outstanding' cars, according to the unit's boss John Edwards.
It might sound like a crack commando team from a Hollywood blockbuster, and that's not a bad analogy. The Special Ops team will be a small, but growing unit able to react to niche product opportunities.
Special Operations: a new high-octane department at Jaguar Land Rover
Special Ops will operate in four key areas:
• High-performance Jaguars and Land Rovers, likely starting with the flagship Range Rover Sport that has been racking up development miles at the Nurburgring (see our spy photos in the photo gallery above)
• Heritage business, restoring and servicing historic Jags and Landies. This kicks off with the six ‘missing’ Lightweight E-types, that Special Ops will handbuild to the spec of Jaguar's 1963 icon using authentic, consecutive chassis numbers
• Personalisation to tap into increasing demand for bespoke vehicles. SVO is building a new state-of-the-art paint shop to massively extend its colour palette, offered alongside a richer variety of leathers and interior trims
• Merchandising, licensing and other revenue streams, such as Land Rover's new partnership with British luxury apparel brand Barbour
Jaguar's answer to AMG: SO
Special Operations will be supported by 500 specialists in design, engineering and manufacturing; it will have its own facility. Think of it as the JLR equivalent to Mercedes’ AMG operation in Affalterbach, which also restores heritage cars, personalises series cars in the most outlandish ways, and creates high-octane versions of the road car range.
How significant a profit generator could Special Operations become, CAR asked managing director Edwards? 'Massive,' he replied. 'The UK classic car market was recently valued at £4 billion - we're currently seeing very little of that.
'And think about [the scale of] AMG. We've taken inspiration from Ferrari personalisation too. And the Jaguar and Land Rover halo vehicles will be sold in significant volume - we're not talking runs of 250 cars.'
Limited edition Jaguar Land Rover collectors' editions are coming
Edwards is also dreaming up some 'limited run collectors editions', perhaps building on the experience of the XKR-S GT project. 'Special Operations will allow our customers to indulge their passion for cars, and our designers and engineers to indulge their passion for creating special cars,' he said.