It seems nowadays that one can't turn a page, start a conversation or, um, click on a website without more predictions for our autonomous, electric, connected future. For those of us obsessed with cars because of the independence they offer, the challenge theydemand and the thrill of a petrol engine, it can all seem a little unnerving. Especially when Jaguar sees this as the future.
This Project Vector is pitched as a solution "to today's urban mobility challenges with unparalleled interior space and flexibility in vehicle configuration." As such it can be set up for individual use, shared transport or as a commercial vehicle; it might not look it here, but the Vector is only four metres long, so ideally sized for urban errands. Battery and drivetrain gubbins under the floor is what facilitates the cavernous load area.
More broadly, the Vector is another component of JLR's Destination Zero plan, which has the lofty ambition of zero emissions, zero congestion and zero accidents. That's not just through cars, it should be said, instead a grand strategy that encompasses products, services and facilities.
Anyway, the car itself. Project Vector has been developed with the national Automotive Innovation Centre because of their additional expertise in the area. Between the two, and along with Coventry City Council, a pilot programme for the Vector is scheduled for 2021. From now until then, and for many years after, expect to hear lots more about digitalisation and urbanisation; Project Director Dr Tim Leverton has suggested how these make "connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable." As more and more people move to cities, and digital devices increasingly dominate our lives, it does seem somewhat inevitable (and sensible) that ride hailing, autonomy and shared, connected transport will be the future of moving around cities. A shorter commute has to be good news to everyone, right?
But it remains a shame that Jaguar's answer to the urban mobility problem has to look like something Rinspeed might exhibit at a motor show, it being known for some of the most beautiful automotive designs of the past century. Still, nobody particularly cares about how their bus, tram or tube train really looks, so perhaps that's the way to think of the Project Vector. Or, as CEO Ralf Speth would say, think of it as "precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission." People of Coventry, the future might be coming sooner than you think...