Update for previous-generation Range Rover makes it less vulnerable to keyless theft
Firm reacts to high theft rate by offering owners quick update that prevents keyless entry system being hacked
JLR (formerly Jaguar Land Rover) has invested more than £10 million in upgrading the security of some of its older cars, in response to high theft rates of certain models.
The announcement comes after JLR CEO Adrian Mardell told investors in March that “theft of our vehicles in large cities has become a problem”, singling out London and Manchester as the two worst-affected locations.
That was after an Autocar investigation revealed that insurers were refusing to cover Range Rover owners because the risk of theft had become so great.
JLR was forced to halt its own insurance offering last year after partner Verex said it would no longer extend coverage.
According to the DVLA, Range Rover models were the second most stolen cars in the UK last year, with more than 5200 stolen.
Mardell said that “mostly old-architecture” (meaning previous-generation) cars were at risk of theft, and it’s these that will benefit from the company’s investment in improved security.
This year, JLR says it has upgraded the security of more than 65,000 cars built between 2018 and 2022, including those out of warranty, to ensure “the same levels of protection as current models”.
It’s now asking remaining owners to take their car to a dealer or book an appointment with a mobile technician – a “rare approach” taken by JLR to accelerate the process – to have the work carried out.
JLR said that although it had upgraded a large number of cars, “a sizeable amount are still outstanding; we’re still working hard to reach clients who haven’t yet taken up their updates”.
Thefts were being conducted by thieves hacking the keyless entry system and driving away without a key, but an update to the car’s body control module (BCM) makes this no longer possible.
This technology means car keys don’t need to be stored in a Faraday pouch, but the company still recommends owners use the JLR app to make use of vehicle lock reminders and Guardian Mode, which sends an alert if there’s any “unauthorised interaction” with the car.
Another part of JLR’s investment in improved security is ensuring log-in details of the InControl app, which allows remote access to the vehicle, are being correctly transferred to new owners.
JLR UK managing director Patrick McGillcycuddy said: “While vehicle theft in the UK is affecting the whole car industry, at JLR we understand the negative impact this can have on the ownership experience for our clients.
“Our investment of more than £10m demonstrates our ongoing commitment to tackling this issue.
“Through our long-standing collaboration with law enforcement and key partners, our expert team will continue to develop and deploy effective anti-theft measures to ensure clients are protected. It’s my personal priority.”
Other Jaguar and Land Rover models aren’t mentioned in the official statement, but a company spokesperson told Autocar that “these nameplates are benefitting from the roll-out of updates” as well.
JLR says that its newer vehicles (built from 2022 onwards) are much more secure, because they use ultra-wide-band technology, meaning they aren’t susceptible to ‘relay attacks’, whereby criminals intercept and clone the signal from a remote car key, allowing them to drive a vehicle away without forcing entry.
Since January 2022, only 0.07% of current-shape Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports have been stolen, and since the latest Land Rover Defender was introduced in 2020, JLR says, just 0.3% have been stolen – through other methods including burglary and identity fraud.
Nonetheless, the high rate of theft was having a knock-on effect on current-model Range Rovers.
Dan Adler, an investment specialist from north London, told Autocar in February that his inbound Range Rover P440e Autobiography had pushed the cost of his multi-car premiums from £5000 to £11,000, forcing him to cancel the purchase.
The insurance issue isn’t deterring customers. The Range Rover has been JLR’s second best-selling model so far this year, with 51,375 examples sold to the end of September, and the Range Rover Sport is close behind, with 41,637 sold.
The Defender was JLR’s best-seller over the period, clocking more than 81,000 sales over the same period.
Asked if JLR anticipates the insurance situation to improve now that this fix is being rolled out, a company spokesperson said: “We’re already seeing the impact the roll-out of these updates are having on theft resilience, and we’re confident this will in turn positively affect the process of clients obtaining insurance on our vehicles.
“We’ve also been proactively engaging directly with UK insurance companies to ensure they’re informed about our security systems and have the latest data on our theft statistics.”