Dick Elsy, who as project director at Land Rover masterminded the concept and business plans for the Freelander, has left BMW in Munich to join Jaguar as director of product engineering.
Elsy’s Freelander success won him the Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for achievement in 1998.
The Freelander project began in 1993 following a strategy review that Elsy conducted as product director for the Land Rover Discovery. `We thought there was room for a cheaper model aimed at younger buyers, so we made a little prototype called Cyclone and presented it to the Rover board, who asked us to work up a proposal,’ he said.
The Freelander was designed using virtual reality CAD systems which allowed Land Rover engineers to significantly improve the level of design that was right first time. They also used these techniques to create a virtual factory before the production facilities were built.
Elsy was born in South Shields in 1959. He studied engineering science at Loughborough University, gaining an honours degree in 1981.
His automotive industry career started in 1981 developing fork lift trucks at Coventry Climax. In 1983 he joined Land Rover and worked as an engineer on the Range Rover.
He moved on to the Discovery programme as part of a special development team put together for the project.
Discovery was delivered within 33 months, after which Elsy became chief engineer on the programme. He became director for Land Rover product development in 1998.
His new position at Jaguar is based at the firm’s engineering centre at Whitley, Coventry. He will report to Dr Nick Barter, Jaguar’s product development director.
* Mike O’Driscoll has been appointed executive vice-president of Jaguar North America.
He will report to and eventually replace Jaguar North America president Michael Dale, who is due to retire on 1 May 2000.
O’Driscoll was born in Coventry and holds an MBA from the University of Warwick. He joined Jaguar Rover Triumph in 1975 as a business student before moving to north America in 1987.
O’Driscoll was previously Washington (DC) regional manager for Lincoln Mercury.