The “game changing” Jaguar C-X75 concept car hits the market in 2013.

Borne out of Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) impressive £800M sustainable technology research and development unit, supported by 100 dedicated engineers, it is a clear demonstration of what is possible – and just how seriously the company is taking its response to the climate change challenge.

The two-seat electric range-extender vehicle produces just 28g of CO2 per kilometre. It will run emission-free in electric-only mode for 68 miles, otherwise it will keep going for 560 miles using a unique combination of electric motors and two 70kW micro gas-turbines.

Full charge takes six hours and the car uses Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium construction techniques (currently being developed as part of the Government’s Technology Strategy Board-funded project AluMatCom).

It’s impressive Top Gear-friendly stuff. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg for JLR.

It’s been a tough couple of years for the car manufacturing sector. Just 999,460 new cars were produced in Britain during 2009, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – the lowest annual output since 1984 and 30.9% less than in the previous year.

Commercial vehicle manufacturers were hit even harder, with the number of new models produced falling 55% between 2008 and 2009. But the economic depression has helped JLR focus minds and drive impact reduction at the heart of the business.

“The economic landscape has certainly not made sustainability drop off the radar,” says Fran Leedham, JLR’s head of environment and sustainability. “If anything it has become more of a business imperative purely because of the opportunities to improve efficiencies and cut costs.”

Central to JLR’s efforts in getting its environmental impacts under control is the development of a business scorecard that includes environmental innovation targets for each of the company’s business areas.

Through a series of leadership workshops with function leads, Leedham and her team have painstakingly engaged with JLR’s 10,000 workforce to embed a system for promoting impact reduction – a crucial engagement programme in trying to meet the company’s overarching goals of reducing fleet and operational CO2 and waste by 25%, and water by 10%, by 2012.

“To have it embedded at the highest level as one of the key business drivers that every function has to have – that is significant,” adds Leedham. “Like any manufacturing company, we are driven by process and metrics. But to have environmental performance linked to people’s individual performance and reward bonus scheme has had a very positive effect.”

The establishment of environmental KPIs is a novel approach, but keeping a tab on its environmental footprint is not new to the company.

JLR has been collating environmental data since it initially got ISO 14001 in 1998 and has been reporting on its progress for the last nine years (this year being the first that Jaguar and Land Rover have produced a joint document). By and large, the low-hanging fruit has been tackled.

So, how has the company managed to continuously improve performance?

“It’s been tough,” admits Leedham.

“But in support of our target of reducing CO2 by 25% by 2012, there was a recognition that a lot of the low-hanging fruit had gone and we needed to make investment to do process change.”

That investment has come in the form of £9M pot allocated over a four year period running to 2012 to low-carbon projects across the business.

“Previously, these had to be paid for within normal operating budgets, which was fine because there is still a lot you can do without spending money.

“But we’d reached a point where to make the step changes we wanted, we needed investment.” The other crucial thing JLR’s board recognised was a need to introduce a longer payback acceptance policy, which was traditionally set at one year. “Very few energy projects pay back in 12 months, so at least now we have some flexibility.”

Leedham and her team have spent the money wisely, investing in proven technologies that would convince the board of the business case for the investment.

Keen to reduce costs and ensure security of energy supply, the company is now looking at various renewable energy technology options, including ground source heat and air pumps, wind turbines, gas turbine combined heat and power or maybe partnering with a contractor to install an anaerobic digestion system.

“There’s no ‘one fits all’ because all of our plants are different,” says Leedham, “but we want to source a percentage of our energy from renewables by 2020 and we’ll look to see what makes sense.”

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