JANUARY 14, 2001
Electronic problems lurking for Jaguar
ONE of the abiding problems for a major multi-national company - be it automotive or anything else - is that the left hand very often doesn't fully know what the right hand is doing. This could well be one of the problems behind a potentially embarrassing issue which, having bubbled along below the waves of the F1 business, has now broken the surface with the potential to leave red faces at both Ford and Jaguar Racing.
The issue concerns the issue of supplies of electronic equipment to Jaguar Racing - and the fact that the Northampton-based electronics company Vodac is threatening legal action to claim £600,000 it claims it is owed for work on telemetric systems and manufacture of specialist steering wheels.
Vodac chief executive Steve Taylor is accusing Pi Developments, who took over responsibility for Ford F1 electronics last year, of refusing to pay the outstanding fee. He finds this rather difficult to fathom, bearing in mind that he has been working for Ford - Jaguar's owner this last decade - for some 14 years, supplying electronics for Cosworth, as well as for Stewart Grand Prix in its pre-Jaguar identity.
"We've been left high and dry," Taylor told this week's Independent on Sunday newspaper. "They left us in a position that we cannot find alternative work for next season.
Taylor also continued to say that Vodac was regularly asked to rebuild equipment at a few hours' notice and manufactured 16 high-tech steering wheels - which cost as much as £50,000 (pounds) apiece - but when Vodac gave its bill to Pi, the Cambridge-based company refused to pay up.
This is an obviously unsatisfactory state of affairs which Jaguar and Ford need to resolve. Clearly there has been a breakdown in corporate communication here and it needs putting right promptly. Unless Jaguar has more to reveal about this issue, of course.
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