Range Rover Evoque wins Royal Academy’s top prize

The team behind the Range Rover Evoque has won the UK’s most prestigious engineering prize, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award.

The Jaguar Land Rover engineers behind the successful urban 4×4 vehicle saw off competition from a rapid genome sequencing camera and a highly accurate flood risk modelling system to claim the £50,000 prize at a ceremony in London last night.

The Evoque has proven a home-grown success story for British manufacturing, racking up sales of over 60,000 units between its launch in September 2011 and April 2012 and leading to the creation of 1300 new jobs and £2bn worth of extra supplier contracts to cope with demand.

Speaking to The Engineer at last night’s annual awards dinner at the Royal Opera House, member of the judging panel and trustee of the MacRobert Foundation Keith Davis said: ‘Usually the MacRobert Award honours something that is really a step change, but actually the Jaguar Land Rover team convinced the panel that what they’d done was to produce lots of innovations that together made a really wonderful package.

‘We were conscious that some people would say “Where’s the innovation?” but we were convinced that it’s all over the place, and you could argue that’s actually what successful automotive engineering is all about.’

Asked to what degree the Evoque’s commercial success was a factor in the win, he said: ‘It is a great commercial success but that in itself is not the major factor which dictates whether something wins the MacRobert Award because there have been several times in the past when the winner has been a small company. There are three things the judges are looking for: technological achievement, commercial success and benefit to the community.’

The MacRobert Award is the Academy’s top prize for engineering innovation and this year attracted over 40 nominations including runners-up Andor Technology for its sCMOS genome camera and JBA Consulting for its J-flow flood risk modelling system.

Chair of the judging panel and former chairman of Railtrack and Smith & Nephew John Robinson FREng said: ‘Land Rover is bucking the trend with the Range Rover Evoque, which has been hugely successful and opened up new markets around the world.

‘The judges were impressed with the sheer excellence of the engineering design and the team’s mission to create a future-facing product that challenges preconceptions of what a Range Rover looks like, while staying true to the qualities that made the brand famous.’

President of the Royal Academy of Engineering Sir John Parker FREng said the Evoque had stimulated much-needed investment in the Midlands and the North West of England.

‘Jaguar Land Rover is a shining example of a large company with an excellent product whose drive and confidence has generated billions of pounds worth of new business for their UK suppliers. We need this ‘pull-through’ effect across the economy to enable growth.’

The winning team members who collected the award from HRH The Princess Royal were:

  • chief programme engineer David Mitchell;
  • studio director David Saddington;
  • vehicle engineering manager Pete Cockle;
  • body engineering manager Brian Lidgard;
  • and principal chassis engineer Ian Hulme.

The Prince Philip Medal – the Academy’s top individual prize – was awarded to Arup’s Naeem Hussain, the designer behind the Forth Replacement Crossing, while a new prize – the Major Projects Award – went to Sir John Armitt, chairman of Olympic Delivery Authority.

Silver Medals for outstanding commercial success were also awarded to:

  • Suranga Chandratillake, founder and CEO of blinkx.com, an internet search engine for video and audio content;
  • Christopher Hendy, a bridge engineering specialist that has worked on projects including the Dubai Metro viaducts, the Penang Bridge in Malaysia, and the London Olympic Park Bridges;
  • Robert Salter of BAE Systems, who led the development of a secure, portable satellite broadband network for use by soldiers on the battlefield;
  • Professor Florin Udrea, founder of electronics firms Cambridge Semiconductor (Camsemi) and Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CMOSS).