Jaguar on the prowl for more U.S. sales
Jaguar, the British luxury brand once owned by Ford Motor Co., is hoping two all-new vehicles and lower prices will appeal to more buyers and grow its presence in the United States.
Dumped by Ford Motor Co. in 2008 and now owned by Indian automaker Tata Motors, Jaguar worked in recent years to shed its old Blue Oval-era image by spicing up its car design and exclusivity. Now, it’s getting ready to offer new vehicles in more popular segments and attempting to win over young luxury customers.
Its two new vehicles — a performance SUV due out at the end of this year and an entry-level sedan coming in 2016 — bump its lineup to five, the largest in brand history.
Its three current cars all have been refreshed for the 2016 model year with trimmed-back prices and improved standard features, including a customer care program that features a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
“The state of Jaguar the last few years from a volume standpoint has been fairly limited,” said Stuart Schorr, vice president of public relations for Jaguar Land Rover of North America. “These are moves that we’ve done specifically in the U.S. market. We felt like this was a significant opportunity to change the trajectory of the Jaguar brand in the U.S.”
Through the first nine months of the year, Jaguar has sold 11,216 cars — a 5.2 percent decrease from the same period a year ago and the biggest decrease among luxury brands, according to AutoTrader.com. Its incentive spending was the highest among luxury brands in September at $6,153 per vehicle, up $1,270 per vehicle from a year ago.
“Jaguar cars have been out of favor, even in the luxury realm, but I think they’re doing exactly the right thing,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader.com. “Jaguar can now play in growing segments. That positions them well as the ranks and affluence of millennial buyers grow.”
Jaguar’s all-new XE is being sold overseas and will arrive in U.S. showrooms next spring as an entry-level compact sedan.
It includes three engine options: a 2-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine and a 3-liter V-6 gas engine that can get up to 340 horsepower.
The base model will start at $34,900, excluding destination fees.
The sports sedan is built with an aluminum body at the automaker’s plant in the U.K.
“The XE is as strong and light as it could possibly be thanks to exhaustive analysis and by bringing the latest engineering techniques to bear on its design,” said Mark White, Jaguar’s chief technical specialist. “It has been challenging to accomplish, but the XE structure is absolutely at the cutting edge of what is achievable today.”
The XE will be equipped with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission controlled using the Jaguar rotary shifter and by steering wheel shift paddles.
It includes safety features such as an emergency braking system and blind-spot monitoring, plus an all-new infotainment system.
The all-new F-Pace, a mid-size SUV, was unveiled in September during the Frankfurt Auto Show. It will have three engine options: two V-6 gas options rated at 340 horsepower and 380 horsepower, and an all-new 2-liter four-cylinder diesel producing 180 horsepower.
“We designed the all-new F-PACE to be first and foremost a Jaguar,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design. “That’s why it has exciting proportions, a dynamic stance, pure surfaces and a beautiful sensuality about it.”
The base model F-Pace will start at $40,900. Schorr said the pricing of the F-Pace and XE is “very aggressive” and meant to target customers at the heart of the luxury segment.
“We feel we have an opportunity to grow the brand quite a bit here in the U.S. and maintain a place as a premium niche luxury brand,” Schorr said. “The key is really having products that are relevant to a larger customer base.”
Jaguar’s sister brand, Land Rover, has experienced great success recently as customers continue to scoop up SUVs.
Land Rover sales so far this year are at 48,403, a 26 percent increase from the same period a year ago and the biggest increase of all luxury brands. Demand for Range Rover and Evoque SUVs carried the Land Rover brand to its best September ever for U.S. deliveries.
“We’ve been on a bit of a roll since 2009. It’s mainly been the Land Rover brand growing,” Schorr said. “Now our investments will start to pay off on the Jaguar side.”