You’re Not Alone, Jaguar

We look closer at European luxury car sales

Large Car Sales Europe
Looking at European sales of the 7 Series, A8, XJ and S Class since 1997 (figures courtesy in chart form is revealing. Of course, each brand’s sales pick up when a new model is released, but the S Class jump with its last three model launches is proportionally huge compared with the others. But as the model becomes established, it sinks to quite similar levels as the A8 and 7 Series. Why is this? One explanation may be the private hire trade. In this a Mercedes is the default choice and, as I heard from one guy who runs his own car, clients don’t like being picked up in a previous model – as soon as the new model becomes available he puts in his order for a car that lasts him 7 years.

But this chart underlines the fact that Jaguar isn’t the only loser. In Europe all sales, even Mercedes are on a downward trend (assuming the current S Class rise shown from 2013 launch will soon reverse) and, in fact, the fall of the 7 Series is steeper than the XJ’s, though an imminent new model will presumably give a respite. Of the four, Audi seems to have the least volatile sales profile, though the rather forgettable third series A8 doesn’t seem to have registered with buyers as the first two did. Actually, the peaky profile of S Class sales must be quite hard for Mercedes. They need to gear up to churn them out as quickly as possible, then sales go into a relatively steep fall. Still, the others should have problems like that.

Jaguar traditionalists, of course, will point to the end of the last Century when, for one sweet moment, Jaguar were outselling both Mercedes and Audi with a car that was arguably, in essence, 20 years old – if you take into account when it should have been launched. But the obvious answer for anyone wanting to get Mercedes-like sales figures is to build a Mercedes under licence.

9 thoughts on “You’re Not Alone, Jaguar”

  1. Could the underlying problem be that the cars are too damn big? While the cars’ length and width increases with each new model, the passenger compartment seems smaller and more confining. I’d be happy in a 90s Mercedes, Jaguar or BMW; the current cars are grotesque and probably no fun to conduct yourself. How are 5-series, A6 and E-class sales? Good, I expect although they must be getting quite bulky and anaesthetic now as well.

    1. The comparison of European sales of the 5-Series class is more balanced for the Big Three, with them swapping positions over the years, but the trend is generally downwards. But if Jaguar’s task looks daunting with the XJ, then the new XF has even further to go. The most notable thing about XF sales is that, unlike the ‘competitors’, and the S-Type, they didn’t tail off with time. That suggests that buyers are coming round to it, slowly, and that there should be a decent looking rise as the new model becomes available.

  2. I suppose the same thing could be said about the middle class of cars here: they are getting too large. The current 5 is at least as big as the 7 from 1988.

  3. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the number of cars sold is directly proportional to the size of the dealers network, as well as production capacity. To compete with the German Three, JLR would probably need to more than double the number of dealers in Europe.

    1. Living in London I’m often closer to a Rolls, McLaren or Jaguar dealer than a Renault or Citroen one. There is a large VW dealer in Wandsworth, but if you want a run-of-the-mill car, you usually face a long trip into the deepest suburbs. That, presumably, is why you see so many Bentleys in London. They would have bought a Hyundai, but the dealer was too far away.

      Once you get into the country the situation can be reversed but, in any case, a 60 mile round trip to get your car serviced is a pain you don’t need. I don’t know how the finances of dealerships work, but I don’t imagine Jaguar are in the lucky position of potential European dealers falling over themselves to finance a new set-up without an incentive. So I guess it becomes a chicken-and-egg situation for them being one of just several reasons why people are unwilling to step away from the usual suspects. But you’re certainly correct, Laurent, if you can’t buy one more-or-less down the road, you won’t unless you are a diehard enthusiast.

  4. That´s another reason to buy a used car. You can match the car to the mechanic nearest you.

    More seriously, if you do own a Bentley then you may have a long distance to the nearest dealer. Is it true then that most of those cars are run by people who have people to move cars to the mechanics? Or do they pay a lot to have cars moved on flatbed trucks? It´s not something I had considered. The super rich will find ways to solve these problems – it´s more the moderately rich who may find having an ususual car a bit of of a bother e.g. the chap on £59,000 p.a. who has a nice car and house but still feels bills in the £2000-£4000 range hurt a bit. That person is not rich enough to send their car to the mechanic nor have it driven by a lackey. What is the solution? Is it to have the garage drop people off and drive back?

  5. Richard mentioned Doug DeMuro recently in a piece, and I hadn’t come across him before. I found this item by him on TTAC from last week. Richard liked his video presentation style, but his writing style seems standard 21st century motoring writer smartarse (I can talk). Not that I’m discounting what he says. Both the article itself and the comments underline the different perception of Jaguar across the Atlantic (as an aside, I found the comment about the F-Type being ‘a little vulgar’ from someone who styles themselves Facelvega a bit rich). Mr DeM, appears not to have that good a handle on the chronology of Jaguar’s ongoing plans and is also commenting as if all Jaguar’s strategy should relate to cracking the US market, which is a bit blinkered, but it underlines how far they still have to go in changing perceptions. In fact, if I was reading this at Jaguar I’d be hugely depressed – if informed car people still think like that, is there any hope.

  6. I seem to recall someone else wrote a more balanced take on Jaguar’s US woes. Damn, if only I could remember who it was – and what website….?

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