Jaguar Land Rover is contacting thousands of its customers in order to upgrade their cars with improved security, in a bid to stem an epidemic of Range Rover thefts.
Range Rovers were the most stolen vehicle in the UK in 2022, principally because of their high resale value. Criminals are able to manipulate the keyless technology, used in many luxury models, to steal the cars.
JLR, which is a subsidiary of the Indian car maker Tata Motors, is updating the security systems of a variety of Land Rover and Jaguar models made between 2018 to 2022.
“JLR vehicles from 2022 onwards – Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Defender, Jaguar F Pace are equipped with the latest security features and are proving very resilient to theft,” a JLR official said.
“We are continuing to roll out a programme to enhance the security of models from 2018 onwards and already tens of thousands of eligible vehicles have received software updates via their retailer, to provide the latest vehicle security.
“We will be contacting more clients directly about this issue in the near future.”
The convenience that many new luxury cars now have of keyless technology is now experiencing a downside.
Thieves are able to purchase electronic hacking equipment which tricks the car's security system into unlocking the doors and starting the engine without the keys.
It all comes down to radio frequencies, which criminals can hack into simply by standing near an owner's house where the car keys are kept.
Copying that signal and relaying it to the nearby parked car will open the doors and allow a thief to drive it away.
It is believed the upgrades involve making the codes and frequencies less hackable, but JLR is naturally reluctant to share details.
Most luxury cars receive security updates regularly and remotely and the industry itself is acutely aware of the problem.
Newer models, fewer thefts
In the 12 months to late March, 8,284 Land Rovers were stolen in the UK, according to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
This is 1 per cent of all Land Rovers on the road in the UK.
Range Rover models accounted for six of the 10 most-stolen cars, with the Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic being the thieves' favourite.
But JLR was by no means alone – DVLA figures show that of the 1,717,687 Mercedes-Benz cars registered in the UK, 5,542 were stolen during the year to last March.
JLR chief executive Adrian Mardell said continuing improvements in anti-theft software and hardware will lower the number of thefts dramatically.
“We’re very confident that our vehicles being purchased today are in a much more protected state than they would have been two to three years ago,” he said.
“The theft record was much worse in 2022 than it is today.
“Engineers have been working on a significant number of interventions to counteract, avoid and get ahead of the ways that vehicles can actually be taken.”
The knock-on effect luxury car theft is having on insurance premiums in the UK, was illustrated by analysis by The Daily Telegraph.
It found just two insurers willing to cover a Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic in London, with an average annual premium coming in at £22,515 ($27,770).
Nonetheless, sales of JLR's three most profitable models, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender, continue to increase.
At the end of September, the car maker had more than 168,000 client orders, with Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender making up 77 per cent of the total JLR order book.