2018 Range Rover P400e PHEV review by Nick Rufford for Sunday Times Driving

JLR offers free security upgrade to tackle high proportion of Land Rover thefts

Newer cars not so susceptible

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced a £10 million investment in upgrading security for commonly stolen models including the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

The company is using the money to offer customers a “complimentary security upgrade” for cars built between 2018 and 2022, in a bid to prevent a spate of thefts.

According to figures from the DVLA, the Range Rover is the second most commonly stolen car in the UK, with the Land Rover Discovery coming in fifth.

Such cars are commonly fitted with so-called keyless entry and start systems, which use sensors to detect the key so drivers to start the car at the touch of a button. The idea is that drivers do not need to remove the key from their pocket or bag to access and start the car.

However, these systems can be susceptible to hackers, with thieves using clever technology
to fool the car into thinking the key is present.

Many within the car industry have been concerned about keyless car security attacks for some time, and multiple manufacturers have taken steps to ensure their keyless entry systems are more difficult to circumvent.

Technology to help combat this includes keys that contain motion sensors; when the key hasn’t moved for a set period — such as when resting on a side table at home — it switches off, thereby making it impossible to capture the signal on a relay device. Other approaches involve using more sophisticated codes that are harder to capture.

Jaguar Land Rover says vehicles built after 2022 have “JLR’s most advanced electrical architecture” and are less susceptible to theft, with just 0.07 per cent of post-2022 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models having been stolen. For new Defenders, the figure stands at 0.3 per cent.

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For vehicles built before 2022, on the other hand, JLR says the thefts of vehicles fitted with the update have fallen by 40 per cent. However, just 65,000 eligible vehicles have been upgraded so far.

Now, the company says it has contacted owners of eligible vehicles, and is encouraging those who have been contacted to ensure the security updates are completed at their authorised Land Rover dealer.

JLR says the upgrade includes updates to the car’s Body Control Module (BCM), which will prevent the car from being “hacked” by thieves and driven away.

JLR urges owners to take other precautions

But despite the upgrade, the company is still urging customers to take additional precautions, including the use of the JLR Remote apps, which offer a selection of security features accessed through the driver’s phone. These include vehicle lock reminders and “Guardian Mode”, which monitors vehicle activity and issues an alert for any unauthorised interaction.

“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,” said JLR UK’s managing director, Patrick McGillycuddy.

“Our investment of more than £10 million 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 is my personal priority.”

In developing this upgrade, as well as other security systems, JLR worked with the insurance industry’s research company Thatcham Research.

Richard Billyeald, Thatcham Research’s chief technical officer, said: “Along with Thatcham Research, JLR has actively supported police and other partners, adopting a holistic approach to identify potential security vulnerabilities, and working proactively to close them down.

“We continue to work closely with JLR, including benchmarking of their recently implemented theft countermeasures as examples of security best practice. We are hopeful these measures will limit further theft exposure.”

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