BY JEREMY CATO
Jaguar has high hopes for its XE entry luxury car slated for showrooms in the spring of next year.
Perhaps the XE will be a stunning success. Even if the XE disappoints, the blame won’t land on the car itself, or amateurish marketing or incompetent dealers. Jag scores among the industry’s best in third-party research for quality and sales satisfaction. And owners love their Jags.
Still, the XE could break hearts at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and its owner, India’s Tata. With this $45,000-to-start sedan, Jag has pivoted from the promising recovery phase of a beloved historical artifact to a bold, direct challenge to the most important cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi – which together command 80 per cent of segment sales.
The XE is intended to be a key pillar in JLR’s near-term annual sales goal of 1.0 million, more than double the 450,000 JLR sold last year. Such ballistic growth often leads to problems.
Nonsense, CEO Ralf Speth tells Automotive News: “At JLR we do not plan for the sake of volume. We want to achieve a sustainable, profitable growth.”
Yes, but as Automotive News reports, the premium midsize car segment will remain in steady decline, according to IHS Automotive. Jag, then, is trying to carve out a profitable chunk of a declining segment at the expense of the world’s foremost premium brands.
Jaguar might have chosen to grow more slowly, consolidating its place as a boutique brand selling modest volumes to wealthy buyers with a hunger for cars that are delicious, delightful, and above all NOT German.
JLR instead is gambling on an affordable volume car, the XE. At JLR, have courage, hope and an outsized appetite for growth trumped marketplace realities? We’ll know in a few months.