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Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

Last updated on: April 1, 2013 09:40 IST

Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

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Rohini Nagrani in New York

In the Jaguar-Land Rover world, it's Land Rover that has contributed a bulk of the volumes, as well as the bottom line, in the past few years.

Driven by demand for SUVs globally, Land Rover continues to ride a wave of success, on the back of a strong product line-up, design as well as technologies.

Jaguar, however competes in segments where the German luxury trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz has seen runaway sales.

Where the German luxury brands that boast of global sales in the region of one million to 1.4 million units a year, Jaguar-Land Rover managed sales of over 357,000 units in 2012, with Jaguar contributing roughly 54,000.

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Image: Jaguar XF.
Photographs: Courtesy, Jaguar
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Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

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Clearly, Jaguar comes across as a bit player, but the move is deliberate.

"We'd like to consider ourselves to be more of a Porsche competitor, rather than the German three," said Steven De Ploey, global product marketing director at Jaguar.

"They are going upwards and downwards (across product lines) and are now competing against the mainstream manufacturers, too, but we don't want to be there," defends De Ploey.

Jaguar, which will begin sales of the F-Type roadster across markets in the next few months is counting on performance and sportiness as a driver to bump up sales.

"Over the past five to 10 years, our image has become a bit blurred. Our history, especially our extensive motorsport heritage is something we'd like to count on and performance is now our new spearhead."

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Image: Jaguar F-Type.
Photographs: Courtesy, Jaguar
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Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

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At the New York Auto Show, it did just that.

While Land Rover basked in the glory of the launch of the second-generation Range Rover Sport SUV, Jaguar used it as an opportunity to add more models to its R Performance Line.

It unveiled the XJR, the sports sedan variant of the XJ luxury saloon and the XKR-S GT, a limited edition model meant for North America.

 While performance will be the core of the brand, it needs to get volumes from its four product lines, the XF, XJ, XK and F-Type.

"We have debuted 10 models and derivatives since 2012 and those have helped Jaguar grow by six per cent last year," says Adrian Hallmark, brand director, Jaguar.

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Image: Jaguar XF.
Photographs: Courtesy, Jaguar
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Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

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"With a host of variants like the all-wheel drive versions of their sedans that are critical for growth in North America and Europe and the Sportback version of the XF, Jaguar, according to De Ploey, now covers 90 per cent of the accessible market.

While the F-Type will drive in footfalls and improve volumes in markets like Europe and the US, it needs a more 'mass' appeal product to gain marketshare in emerging markets like India, China and Brazil.

In fact, Jaguar has no presence in the compact luxury executive sedan segment, a market dominated by the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4.

When quizzed about the potential of such a product, De Ploey said that the company continued to explore opportunities, but that a disciplined approach was followed to ensure they 'didn't spread themselves too thin'.

Jaguar, which did have presence with the X-Type until a few years ago is keen on getting back, according to industry sources, and such a product won't drive into showrooms until 2015.

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Image: Jaguar XJ Ultimate.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.jaguar.com
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Performance is Jaguar's new spearhead

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New Range Rover Sport in India this festive season

The big-ticket launch at the New York Auto Show was the new Range Rover Sport that's to come to India in the last quarter of 2013.

The second-generation model comes on the success of the first-generation that was first launched in 2005 and has sold over 415,000 units to date.

Internationally, the car competes with the likes of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 and will continue to do so in India as well, but with an incremental increase in price.

Where it was priced in the region of Rs 65-80 lakh, the new one is likely to start at Rs 90 lakh (Rs 9 million) and go up to Rs 1.2 crore (Rs 12 million), ex-showroom, Mumbai.

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Image: Jaguar XJ Ultimate interior.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.jaguar.com
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Like the Range Rover, the new Sport is an all-aluminium-bodied SUV and boasts superior fuel economy and low emissions.

It will be offered in India with a host of petrol and diesel engine options, with a diesel hybrid variant likely in 2014. And for the first time, the Sport will be offered with a seven-seat option.

The Range Rover Sport, like other Range Rover products will be imported into India as a completely-built unit. Jaguar-Land Rover offers a variant of the Jaguar XF saloon and the Land Rover Freelander 2 in knocked-down format from its facility in Pune.

The writer was at the New York Auto Show on an invite by Jaguar-Land Rover


Image: Jaguar C-X75 concept car in Paris.
Photographs: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
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