More SUVs, a new sports car, more electrification… no more saloons? How Jaguar plans to reinvent itself. By Georg Kacher
JAGUAR UNDER TATA ownership has had many moments of brilliance – but it needs to make some bold changes in order to move up to the next level. The problem is that it’s a company with a strong herit- age of big, powerful saloons, but that’s not where the market is heading.
The F-Pace has shown that the world is ready for the Jaguar badge on an SUV grille, and Jaguar’s battery-powered future has got off to a great start with the
excellent new electric i-Pace. But with other premium brands making big strides into electrifica- tion, Jaguar needs to up the momentum – without breaking the bank.
Over the next five years, we expect Jaguar to replace the F-Type and add two extra models to the SUV line- up – a medium-sized C-Pace and a flagship J-Pace. There will be more hybrid versions and new all-elec- tric cars. But there’s a question mark over the saloons.
The scale of the challenge was highlighted when JLR published its financial results for the first quarter of 2018. The headline figures included a pre-tax loss of £264 million on revenues that were down 6.7 per cent year on year. There are many factors in play, but a huge drop in diesel sales got much of the blame.
CEO Ralf Speth said: ‘We will remain focused on driving growth and simultaneously reducing costs and boosting operational efficiency and capability, taking the necessary steps to shape our future… We remain true to our pioneering spirit and our ability to create innovative and exciting cars… With our huge investment com- mitment in electrified technologies, we remain confident [we can] deliver sustainable, profitable growth.’
Shorter term, while the F-Pace is a solid success and the E-Pace may still come good, the passenger cars in the Jaguar portfolio need a thorough re- think. XE and XF replacements have featured in some Jaguar forward plans but there is no guarantee these projects will materialise. Why? Because the favoured aluminium architecture is expensive, because sales of the current models are struggling to keep up with projections, and because the saloon segment has been hit particularly hard by the SUV craze.
According to a high-ranking engineer, there are a couple of alternative scenarios under investigation. One is to merge the XE and XF saloons (and possibly the XJ limo) into one high-end four-door coupe that would feature two wheelbase options, with taller crossover-style versions to follow. Option number two is known as x-Pace, a luxurious and spacious battery-powered big brother to the i-Pace – an option that would signal the end of Jaguar saloons.
Meanwhile, Jaguar and Land Rover are working to streamline the number of platforms that underpin their various products. The plan involves two families of structures: MTA, for modular transverse architecture, and MLA, modular longitudinal architecture. Both will have ‘a’ and ‘b’ versions – ‘a’ being low-floor, ‘b’ being high floor.
MTA will be used in smaller and less expensive models with front- or all- wheel drive. They could include the C-Pace and the next-generation E-Pace. The MLA layout can provide rear- and all-wheel drive, and is likely to underpin the next-generation F-Pace, the larger J-Pace SUV and the bat- tery-powered ‘i-Type’; that name is currently used by the Formula E racer but this would be an i-Pace variant. The electric products should get a useful boost from Jaguar’s continuing involvement in Formula E and the start this winter of the i-Pace eTrophy race series. But the market will be tough for the petrol SUVs, which are facing ever more competition, and there’s little reason for optimism that the XJ – marking its 50th anniversary – has much of a future