We Are About To Attempt A Crash Landing

‘Place your tray tables in the upright locked position…’

Image: e-engine.de

Steve Cropley is seemingly a worried man. The veteran auto-journalist wrung his hands this week over the lack of meaningful intelligence emerging from Thierry Bolloré’s JLR boardroom over the future direction of the serially-troubled Jaguar brand. Almost a year has passed, he stated since the French CEO announced the Re-Imagine plan for the car business, which is attempting to emerge from a series of crises: political, pandemical and of its own making.

Now before we go any further, it is worth pointing out that while the estimable Mr. Cropley might sometimes come across as such, he is no fool, more a journalist who is content to indulge his readers’ prejudices and predilections – JLR’s current leader being a case in point.

While Bolloré was certainly a surprise appointment given his less-than stellar prior track record at Groupe Renault, the Autocar grandee lauded him in 2020 as something akin to the messiah.[1] But apart from setting out his plans for the future, Bolloré is under no obligation to say anything more to the press until he deems the moment opportune.

But this is will not stand: Having seemingly enjoyed the confidence of former JLR supremo, Sir Ralph Speth, not to mention exclusive access to future plans, ‘our man on the ground’ appears to be feeling a little under-briefed amid the glacial Frenchman’s current regime. But should we share the Autocar scribe’s concerns?

2021 has been a challenging year for the entire global motor business. With the bulk of JLR’s manufacturing UK-based, they have quite understandably been afflicted by supply-chain issues, to say nothing of any additional Brexit-related paperwork or due diligence that leaving the EU has precipitated. The Midlands-based carmaker has also been pummelled by the global semiconductor shortage, a consequence of JLR’s relatively small scale and limited purchasing power by comparison to larger, better resourced and chip-hungrier rivals.

Ironically, the pandemic itself has probably had less of an effect during 2021, the UK government’s policies meaning that there were fewer restrictions on movement or close contact, especially after the self-styled ‘freedom day’ in the early summer. Furthermore, the pandemic has if anything heightened demand for expensive luxury cars – the ‘life’s too short’ argument recently posited by Rolls Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös .

How bad were things for JLR in 2021? Well, according to a recent report by reputable auto-journalist Nick Gibbs for Automotive News, JLR sales as a whole took a 1.2% dive last year, citing 420,856 vehicles delivered. Hardly catastrophic, especially when one observes that sales of Land Rover products rose by 3.4% in spite of the above mentioned issues. The semiconductor shortage did entail back orders of 154,000 cars which could not be fulfilled by the year’s end – some 66,000 of those consisting of orders for the Defender and new-generation Range Rover alone. It is these unfulfilled orders, JLR’s CFO states, along with other restructuring costs that have delayed the carmaker from making a full financial recovery last year.

A further drag on JLR’s finances, to nobody’s surprise is that of Jaguar. Sales slumped 16% in 2021 to 86,270 cars, a matter hastened not only by an apparent collapse in demand for Jaguar’s traditional saloon offerings, but also by the announcement that all combustion-engined Jaguars are to be consigned to the history books before 2025. While it is incontrovertible that the buying public remains leery of taking a punt on Jaguar right now, a further consequence of the ongoing semiconductor shortage is that JLR is (quite logically) are prioritising high value model lines in order to obtain the biggest return possible while chip supply remains so uncertain. This means that in the queue for semiconductors, the leaping cat has been firmly consigned to the rear.[2]

Jaguar find themselves in an invidious position. The XE and XF are as good as dead. Somewhat nebulous to begin with, their essential appeal has been stripped clean, the market having conclusively rejected them. Indeed, 2021 sales of the XE and XF across the European region (Jan-Nov totals of 1327 and 1693 respectively)[3] can be characterised by a single word: dire.[4]

On the other hand, the F-Pace had been Jaguar’s core seller since its 2016 launch, but the crossover’s best sales year was as long ago as 2017 (30,920 in Europe and 18,946 in the US). Four years on, and despite a creditable facelift, the F-Pace appears to have stalled (11,520 across Europe, 9512 in the US). Sales of the E-Pace crossover have also shown a sizeable dip through 2021, (14,847 across Europe), almost 50% down on the previous year.

What of the electric I-Pace, the only Jaguar model nominally at least to escape the oncoming reckoning? On sale since 2018, deliveries reached a European peak in 2020 (13,444 cars), while the US figures peaked in 2019 (2594). Last year a dispiriting 7039 were delivered across growing European EV markets, while 1409 found homes in the US. A supply or demand issue? Take your pick.

Now, as I am fond of pointing out, numbers can be something of a blunt tool, (and these are not exhaustive) but one cannot avoid the stark reality. The latterday Jaguar experiment appears to have run out of road.

Regardless of which way the cards fall now, JLR will euthanise a large proportion of Jaguar’s current offerings before the clock stops at 2025, the only question at this stage being when exactly? That is one of the questions occupying the minds of JLR’s senior management, and one very much predicated upon what decisions are taken about brand-Jaguar’s future over the coming months. After all, Mr. Bolloré needs assurances that the huge investment required to reimagine it as a more upmarket all-electric brand will not produce another litter of asthmatic kittens.

But if the tea-leaf prophecy for Jaguar is deemed unviable, what then? Who wants to be the CEO who metaphorically takes Jaguar into the backwoods and finishes it off with a pearl-handled revolver? Things could still go either way for certain, because let us not forget that too much investment has already been fruitlessly squandered under previous incumbents for history to be allowed to repeat once more, and Bolloré knows this better than most.

But to return to Mr. Cropley and his stated concerns regarding brand-Jaguar, a number of observations leap to mind. That Jaguar’s survival hangs in the balance is incontestable, but these problems did not occur either overnight or in a vacuum. The disconnection here surely is not so much that Cropley is worried, more that he chooses now to express his concern. The grim irony being that for a change perhaps, Autocar’s Editor in-chief finds himself as much in the dark as to JLR’s upcoming intentions as the rest of us.

Or maybe he’s simply assuming the brace position – just in case.

[1] “And I should know I’ve followed a few…”

[2] Furthermore, the number of trim and engine derivations was cut dramatically on both XE and XF model lines – further limiting the desirability of either model to prospective purchasers.

[3] US sales of the XF model in 2021 were even worse – 1194. China wasn’t too hot either – 7037 cars.

Sales of the F-Type sports model have held stable for 2021 – (Europe: 2217 Jan-Nov figures/ US: 2212) but are, like all Jaguar models, in retreat.

Sales data via carsalesbase.com/ Automotive News.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

34 thoughts on “We Are About To Attempt A Crash Landing”

  1. Thanks Eóin, this is a very good overview of Jaguar’s situation,
    and a nicely weighted sketch of an ageing but still engaged
    Steve Cropley. I know nothing of his writings these days,
    except when he comes in for some (mostly mild) stick in DTW,
    but I do have fond memories of bits and pieces from the 80s,
    perhaps from columns in Supercar Classics, including one on
    rear-engined cars which affirmed my own positive experiences
    of them. And a fine piece on his ownership of a Ferrari 308 for
    two years. That big hairy man with his daggy pullovers pushed
    up his arms wrote with intelligent detail and warmth.

  2. I don’t have anything specific to add regarding the viability or otherwise of Bollore’s strategy. All I can say is that JLR must be in serious strife if Cropley has seen fit to criticise him, because the guy has made an entire career out of professionally publishing retreaded press releases with not the merest hint of critique, and playing very clear favourites, of which JLR is amongst the most blatant.

    There is, naturally, a well-worn technique for all this. If favoured brand has announced a relaunch, excellent – that provides plenty of optimistic copy that can always be sufficiently fluffed with lots of “wait and see” for any bits that are too pathetic or beyond the pale for anyone of reasonable intellect to take seriously. Invariably the sales bump that follows from replacing a dated/dead/nonexistent product is lauded with the triumph of 10,000 sycophants and reassurance that the company is “well on its road to recovery and challenging (insert market leaders, usually German, here)”. When things invariably fall off a cliff then it’s, for the most part, all quiet on the Western front until the next relaunch plan is announced, at which point the cycle repeats.

    I remember the specific Bollore piece Eoin mentions well, because I shared it at the time with some colleagues as a prime example of how utterly pathetic and shameless this technique really is. Let’s consider what he actually wrote back then, and then put it in context of what he claims to be worried about now:

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/how-jlr-boss-thierry-bollore-will-reinvent-britains-biggest-car-firm

    “How JLR boss Thierry Bollore will reinvent Britain’s biggest car firm – JLR CEO tells us about his radical plan to transform Jaguar into a luxury electric brand”

    (A dictionary is apparently deeply unfamiliar territory for anyone at Autocropley Towers, incidentally, because I have never seen anyone, publication or individual, that uses ‘radical’ so commonly, indiscriminately, incorrectly. Ugh. Calm down, Stradale.)

    “Of course, Bolloré is a serious and determined man. How could you not be, when one of your first decisions is to kill a new Jaguar project (the XJ) that cost years and billions, and embodied the best work of many good people – replacing it with a Jaguar EV revival plan so radical that it almost defies assessment? And when a few years before that, as the successor to the Renault Group’s all-powerful Carlos Ghosn, you were unceremoniously dumped amid political turmoil that followed your predecessor’s extraordinary arrest?

    “Yet I don’t believe I’ve met a CEO in recent times with such a frequent and friendly smile, who remains so patiently willing to explain in ever greater detail plans he has already explained many times before, or who signals so readily that, from here on, progress at JLR will depend mostly on the fighting spirit of a workforce he already regards as exceptional.”

    So, having laid out “in ever greater detail”, multiple times, what the plan apparently is, we are now told that apparently this plan is lacking clarity barely six months on. One can only clench one’s teeth in imagining how desperately Bollore wanted to evict Cropley and his offsider from his office so he could get on with some actual work instead of “explaining”, multiple times, to his press-release-addled brain what constitutes a strategy.

    “That’s where he stops. Bolloré won’t reveal much about design details or the size of the range – these are still being refined – although he does allow that the new Jaguar EVs will have a family look. His marketing and design teams are currently working out how the car world will be educated about the direction of New Jaguar. Concept cars are likely, but nothing is confirmed.”

    Groundbreaking stuff, well done on securing that exclusive scoop there.

    “Tisshaw then asks the killer question: in a country that is so used to revival plans for failing car brands – a decent proportion of which themselves don’t work – how can we be confident that this one will fly?

    “First, says Bolloré, you need a new Jaguar plan for the simple reason that the existing one is never going to work. Why not? “Because if you listen to the customer who comes to test an F-Pace, you soon see the problem. They drive the car and discuss the price. Maybe they’re impressed. But then they go out and buy an original SUV, an Audi or a BMW. That’s the problem. Our models are designed to match BMW, but we are not BMW. Why would you buy the Jaguar which isn’t the Jaguar you dreamed about?”

    “Citing clouds of helpful research, Bolloré is convinced that New Jaguar – which he describes as “almost a start-up” – can thrive at a Range Rover production scale. And not from comparison with Aston Martin, by the way, whose operation is considerably smaller than JLR now contemplates for its radical all-EV Jaguar. “We’re not looking for big volumes, but we have research to show that the number of customers for the cars we are contemplating is higher than just a couple of thousand,” he says.

    “Bolloré specifically dismisses any suggestion that a Jaguar is an old person’s car, pointing out that the Sir William Lyons marque succeeded early in life with exactly the opposite positioning – by selling innovations, breakthroughs and breathtaking design that no one anticipated. “We were not at all the brand of old people,” he insists. “With the right positioning, we can completely change that. Believe me, we are ready to face customers of all kinds, including the young rich, who are technically oriented and very much at ease with what we’re planning.””

    Quite honestly, this beyond lightweight “We want to be a premium player” line pretty much critiques itself, but what is noticeable is the utter silence from the journalists about how truly threadbare the plan is. This was MORE than apparent at the time, so an EXTREMELY generous reading of Cropley’s output this week is that he is, to be generous, more than a bit slow on the uptake.

    What more can I say? There’s nothing more cringeworthy than journalists writing ‘open letters’ to CEOs. I say this as someone who was a journalist myself in a previous life. That’s why I’m qualified to say that the old saw about those who can do and those who can’t write about it rings VERY true in the last couple of decades of motoring journalism in particular:

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/dear-thierry-our-advice-jaguar-land-rovers-new-ceo

  3. The invoice can be sent to me. For the sum of 500,000 GBP I can advise Jaguar to sell an electric 5-series type car for a bit less than whatever Tesla costs and an electric Porsche 911-type for less than whatever a Porsche costs. That´s all that ´s needed. Everything else can be handled by the Range Rover brand. Like AR, this brand has been in trouble since the Pertwee years (that´s a long way back, for younger readers). Jaguar doesn´t need a full range of cars and this is a message I will sell to other car companies for 650,000 GBP per report plus expenses. Full ranges of cars made sense for a mass producer with one marque in the portfolio. They don´t for car companies with large portfolion. How it even half works for VAG is a special case.

    1. That’s an interesting perspective. I haven’t really followed JLR’s trials and tribulations closely of late but, upon reading this article, found myself thinking that the only niche left for Jaguar in our brave new electric world might be that of a more luxurious alternative to the Tesla Model S, so perhaps slightly higher-priced but with a much nicer interior and tactile qualities.

      An electric successor to the F-type would make sense too I suppose and, as you say, Range Rover covers everything else now. Those like me who might want a compact-ish Jaguar saloon are apparently a vanishingly small minority.

    2. It is a bit of a quandary: Jag’s all but dead but it makes up half of JLR (well, one third of the acronym and about a fifth of sales). The traditional “easy” way out is to develop some sort of cut-up from Range Rover parts they happen to have around, but that’s almost guaranteed to sink the marque even further because traditionalists (such as they are left) would never accept it on principle, while anybody else would probably not see the appeal against many other offerings.

      Richard’s proposal (sorry, I don’t have the cash on hand to fullfull the invoice) seems a viable strategy. One (or two) model(s) that focus on maximum technical and emotional appeal (the XJi?) that would form a tactical retreat from which strength might be rebuilt.

      The failure of the I-Pace is disheartening since it’s a genuinely clever design that takes advantage of the flexibility that en EV platform offers. It seems that in a market where for one, subsidies get increasingly capped to more affordable models and for another, most models (particularly Teslas at which the I-Pace seems squarely aimed, at least in terms of intended appeal) receive very regular updates more akin to software than industrial products, it just couldn’t keep up. I’ve also read quite a few stories about how I-Pace customes were somewhat clumsily (mis)informed of the vagaries of EV-ownership (like the significant drop in range in cold weather), which seems an issue of dealer education.

    3. Yes, retrenchment made sense back when they introduced the first XF. I think the XE and XF have suffered from having possibly the development budget and certainly the design language that was previously reserved for that one car smeared out over two. No matter its ambitions, Jaguar didn’t really have the budget to take on the Big Three back then, so it certainly does not do so now. For much of its existence, the XJ carried Jaguar anyway, so a similar strategy makes eminent sense.

      I’ll be interested to find out whether Stellantis can find some way to manage its cornucopia of marques. I’ve often wondered whether it would make sense to introduce Lancia in the Far East (where it is unburdoned by history but blessed with a nationality that evokes “luxury” and “fashion”) as a sort of Gucci-like luxury brand. Otherwise it’s been a one-car and one-national-market company. Alfa is in a similar quandary to Jag, with the added trouble that its recent history has been anything but stellar even in comparison.

  4. I feel the problem with Jaguar for some time hasn’t been really about the product. Although their model ranges aren’t as comprehensive as the german trio, the XE and XF are quite desirable in my view (the XJ is an acquired taste, let’s say).

    However, most of cars at this price level are bought by fleet managers, not by private individuals. And here, they simply can’t compete with the residuals of the germans or even with the, sometimes, incredibly low monthly rents that they command !

    On top of that, the “average” buying public is extremely conservative and prefers to go with the tried and trusted, specially because a refined aesthetic acumen is not a characteristic deeply present in the general public…

    I live in a reasonably affluent neighborhood of Lisbon where Merc/BM/Audis are probably more in view than Renaults or Fords and it always strikes me that some notorious aberrations from that trio can be seen in such large numbers. It clearly shows that the logo on the front sells, regardless of where it sits.

    The XE should have been the nail in the coffin for the current strategy at Jaguar. If something as desirable, dinamically accomplished and clearly better looking than an 3er doesn’t sell, it’s time to change tack. As others before me have said, dramatically prune the range and just keep an EV SUV and a sports car (F-type and successors), and leave the rest to L-R.

  5. In connection with the relaunch of Jaguar, Thierry Bolloré likes to refer to Range Rover as a role model with regard to positioning in the market. And that in itself leaves me quite confident that he (unlike his predecessor) understands the potential of the Jaguar brand exceptionally well.

    With the launch of the 5th generation, JLR has just impressively demonstrated that it is probably the only manufacturer in the premium and luxury segment that is currently willing and capable of delivering classless products of the highest quality and stylistic confidence.

    And that is precisely what Jaguar must also succeed in doing. The same effect that was achieved there over 50 years ago with the launch of the first generation XJ. An effect that seems more urgent than ever today, as it currently seems almost impossible to find a superior product in the sports car and saloon segment that is decisively characterised by quality and a sense of style.

  6. One of the things that grated about Autocar magazine in recent years was the succession of front-page ‘scoops’ about forthcoming Jaguar models that would, we were assured, set the world alight and drive a big increase in sales. When the new models finally arrived, they had a distinct whiff of ‘me too’ about them rather anything revolutionary. The XE and (current) XF are pleasant but rather underwhelming designs. They were Jaguar’s attempt to challenge the German premium trio head-on, so they needed to be outstanding rather than merely good, and they simply weren’t. The F-Type was compromised by trying to compete with both the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and 911 and falling between both, not into a niche of its own, but a no-man’s land.

    That the F-Pace is Jaguar’s biggest seller is no big surprise or great achievement: it’s in a red-hot market segment, where it still trails its German competitors by a big margin. The E-Pace was a hasty lash-up that deserves to do badly.

    Jaguar hasn’t designed a really distinctive car since the first-generation XF, which was essentially a four-door coupé sitting in largely its own niche. The i-Pace, for all the excitement it generated at launch, seems to be flatlining in Europe and has bombed in the US.

    The cancellation of the replacement for the XJ at the eleventh hour must have been a huge blow for a company with limited resources to recover from the waste of time and money its development represented. How did it get so near to production without someone realising it was a turkey?

    As for Mr Cropley, perhaps he’s finally seen the writing on the wall for Jaguar and is simply moving to be on the right side of history? I hope I’m proved wrong, for Jaguar’s sake, not Autocar’s.

  7. Jaguar. I don’t think of the brand often, but when I do, I see a Series 3 XJ in my mind, maybe a MkII or E-type, but nothing recent. They only sold 209 cars in total in the Netherlands, giving them a market share of 0,06%. Exclusivity might a be selling point, but this brand is so exclusive it has sunken into an no-man’s land and I don’t see a way out. I hope I am wrong and wish them the best of luck.

    1. I think of the squared headlamp cars and only then as a sort of impostor which should have been better. The daft thing is that it´s a pretty nice car in many ways and I wouldn´t mind running one for a while, like I´d like to try life with a late 80s Cadillac. Would I want to own one? No, I´d rather something less problematic like a 80s or 90s Lancia.

  8. Well, I sort-of gave up on Autocar many years ago ( after half a century of weekly purchasing ) and I never thought very highly of Cropley.
    As for Jaguar, I regards them as dead already. An electric Jaguar would make no sense, unless Jaguar can make an electric motor that is far better than the opposition – does any car maker produce their own electric motors though ?

    1. From the website, EV Central:

      “Many brands buy motors from big automotive component suppliers such as ZF, Bosch and Continental.

      Some design and manufacture their own motors. BMW is one of these.

      And others collaborate closely with partners.

      Jaguar, for example, designed the motors for its I-Pace. The British company holds patents for several features of these motors.

      But a supplier called American Axle & Manufacturing worked with Jaguar to develop the motors for production. While this was done in Sweden, the motors are actually made at an AAM plant in Poland.”

      Much good it did them. I think Jaguar need to do something a daring and produce an EV that is powerful and stylish – perhaps an SUV, or something like Mercedes-Benz’s EQXX. It needs to be stylish and have a big range, more than it needs to be practical.

      Their old motto used to be ‘Grace, Pace & Space’. That was pushing it – ‘Flash, Dash and not too much cash’ would be closer to the truth and it worked. The I-Pace is lovely, but it’s too sensible; it could very successfully be re-badged as an Audi.

      BMW’s controversial ‘hit with the ugly stick’ strategy makes more and more sense – produce stand-out cars that perform very well, are comfortable and fun to drive, have a big range and are a talking point.

      Jaguar needs to stand for something, again.

    2. Mervyn, Most of the major players use their own proprietary electric motors. This article seems a good introduction to the nuances and complications that cause manufacturers to resist buying their motors off the shelf.

      https://www.thedrive.com/tech/17505/the-secrets-of-electric-cars-and-their-motors-its-not-all-about-the-battery-folks

      GM have just broken ground on a new factory to build electric motors.

      BMW, VW, SAIC (MG), Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, GM, and Ford (who will sell anyone a Mach-E crate motor) all design and build their own motors.

      Honda has a JV with Hitachi and has recently initiated another JV with GM. As one can tell from the performance, price, and sales numbers for the Honda e, their current (no pun intended) strategy does not seem viable. Stellantis is another company that is wanting for their own technology and reliant on third parties. Here’s a 2014 quote from the black jumpered genius:

      “If you are considering buying a 500e I hope you don’t buy it, because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000.”

      But did he bother to fix this? Apparently not, as his successor Mike Manley has resorted to scavenging technology from failed EV makers:

      https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/25/20981965/fiat-chrysler-faraday-future-seres-ev-startups-tech

      I guess they are lucky to have discontinued the Ampera-e just as they started to catch fire (the cars, I mean, not sales) but wonder no more why they haven’t even shown us a successor.

      Jaguar worked with a third party: American Axle & Manufacturing, who claims credit for the I-Pace motor design and development at their facility in Trolhatten Sweden, that location is not by happenstance, as the JV was originally initiated by Saab in 2010.

      Are you disappointed in the sales of the I-Pace, or the Honda e, or wondering why Fiat’s New 500 is being ignored? I think we can see a pattern forming here.

    3. Very interesting – thanks for the clarification, gooddog. I always wonder which components are best left being developed by expert external suppliers and then bought-in, and which are better made in-house.

      I guess one could always buy an external supplier, but then they may lose their drive to beat the competition, somewhat.

      I think the Honda e has additional problems in that its range is too short (and the infrastructure isn’t good enough – two sides of the same coin). The same goes for the Mazda MX-30. I’m sure both companies have a stack of research showing that people don’t drive as far as they think they do and therefore a short range is acceptable. That doesn’t work at a psychological level with customers, unfortunately.

  9. Is Jaguar even going to make it to 2025. Perhaps LR should kill it off as a stand alone brand and make it a trim level. So we could have a Range Rover Jaguar as the full fat high performance version and the Range Rover Jaguar line for the impoverished, sporting jaguar mats and a leather embossed steering wheel. This whole situation has a terrible feeling of deja vu, especially for older readers (which probably means everybody here) surely something can be salvaged from this mess. Has no one learnt anything from the the BMC/BLMC/BL/AR/Rover years.

  10. I agree with the majority of the commentators.
    Why not just let Jaguar be jaguar?
    A fat cat limo -against the 5 series, and a wild sporty 2 door coupe/convertible one – because Jaguar must always include a sports car e-type successor.
    Both with their claws extended.
    A two model range brand with it’s own twist. For sure we live in twisted days and years so it only is appropriate.
    And some RR SUVs could be “tuned” by Jaguar, like what M3 or AMG is doing
    I think that is a viable plan!

    1. Richard Herriot, I’d hesitate to suggest saloons to compete against BMW because that strategy already failed. At the Taycan level there is still some uptake though. I think almost all of us could agree with you that Jaguar should not be a full line maker, which is a very apt point.

      Simon, and Constantinos, Jaguar had done this in the past with the names Daimler and Vanden Plas, but they aren’t owned by JLR globally, whereas the media market has largely become global. Otherwise these would perhaps make for appropriate higher luxury level variants of LR products that could be positioned to compete more directly with the Bentaygas, Cullinans, and Levantes.

      I’ll suggest instead that “JaguarSport” (TWR is defunct so perhaps that name is available already?) would be unambiguous if attached to a LR product, as “Range Rover” already connotes a high level of luxury and comfort along with the traditional LR attributes, so that name could be used to position RR better to take on the Cayennes, Macans, DBXs, Stelvios, and Purosangeues. I think that would be an easier reach for JLR than risking a move too far upmarket where the air is rather thin. (I have never seen a Levante, but I have seen a number of Stelvios.)

  11. @gooddog, it’s true that the “black jumpered genius” did make that slightly Ratneresque remark and it might well have been a bit of an own goal, but it is worth remembering the context. First, 2014 is ancient history in the development of modern electric cars (ie it must have been an expensive business engineering it for a low price point car) and second, the need was for something to offset the CO2 figures of FCA’s other products in the USA. I don’t think that version of the 500e ever got sold it Europe, which understandable when you realise that my Californian niece’s husband had a 500e on lease…for all of $80/month! I drove it and thought it a fabulous thing (think 1275 Mini Cooper S) even though the range was only about 80 miles. If I did dwell in the land of sunshine and perfect teeth and commuted less than 30 miles each way, I would have had one too.

    1. Hi Peter, Doesn’t it seem like Norway may have become the spear tip of influence? Toyota and Honda recently sunk a lot of money into attempting to introduce the H2 fueled Mirai and Clarity to the world via California, but it seems their market research compasses were pointed completely in the wrong direction.

  12. What an interesting discussion this has been thus far, thank you Eóin.

    Jaguar have never quite competed against Bentley or Rolls Royce [Daimler has, though they squandered their position so long ago]. However in the sports car realm, Jaguar did compete respectably against Porsche and Ferrari. Likewise in racing. IMO their biggest mistake has been to abandon this position. They learned nothing from the XJ220 “bait and switch” debacle (pre-selling a 12 cylinder car and seeing more than half the orders cancelled once the buyers found out they’d actually be getting a turbocharged six). More recently, Jaguar passed up an excellent opportunity to reclaim this position again despite going to the trouble of building a handful of C-X75s for a fictional character named James Bond (whom everyone knows prefers to drive an Aston).

    Rather, Jaguar ceded their former perceived leadership and market position to McLaren (who aren’t doing so well at the moment, but seem worth rooting for). I can’t find words to describe Jaguar’s V6 made from a V8 casting with two cylinders crudely blocked off. Even GM never… what kind of engineer would sign off on that?

    Could some sort of merger between JLR and McLaren be viable?

  13. @Charles, “Flash, Dash and not too much cash” hits the nail on the head. Brilliant! As a serial kitty fancier (and investor, but a few owners and miles down the ‘pike), I was always willing to put up with slightly tight accommodation (for folk and engines, both) in exchange for the style. I confess I find myself a bit depressed at the prospects for Jaguar, but if we are all going electric I wonder why I care? Electric cars will mainly be about battery and platform (ie how they fit together), with motors at or near the wheels. That might allow a Range Rover platform to be clothed in a supremely elegant Jaguar saloon body, I suppose. But is that going to be enough? Perhaps Jaguar will just die with the combustion engine, a product of its time but a time that is going? Maybe that’s a fitting end?

    1. Thank you Peter.

      Yes, it might be a fitting end, but it’d be a pity. Jaguar still conjures up well-healed, but slightly (and enjoyably) disreputable characters to me. I have to be careful what I’m saying here, as I know readers and contributors own Jaguars, so no offence meant.

      However, those impressions relate to products from Jaguar’s heyday in the ‘50s and ‘60s and as was pointed out by another contributor, the Jaguar name and its old associations will mean less and less.

      Times change – people don’t do bank jobs any more, as it’s more effective to commit fraud online. Perhaps that should be taken as an omen.

  14. If Tata can’t make Jaguar work, why not sell it to somebody who thinks they can? In the EV age, the component-sharing and production base synergy with Land Rover justification looks like a thin argument for keeping the two marques together.

    I can’t imagine VAG or Stellantis being interested, nor Daimler or BMW, but how about one of the numerous “new auto industry” start-ups? There must be hope – earlier this month chronic loss-maker SsangYong was sold for $255million with a heap of debt to South Korean bus-maker Edison Motors. When was the last time a Musso or Korando won at Le Mans?

    1. “When was the last time a Musso or Korando won at Le Mans?”
      Well, the engine lineup of the Mercedes W124 featured both the M111 the M119. The former also powered the Musso, some form of the latter the Sauber C9, winner of the 1989 race.

      Could have been a good one in the 2022 DTW Christmas Quiz…

  15. In other Jaguar news, I spotted two current model XF Sportbrakes this morning in the space of half an hour. A handsome thing, but of limited usefulness as a wagon. My recollection is that at the time of the X260 launch in 2015 JLR swore blind that there would be no new Sportbrake, then introduced that very thing three years later, mainly to try to improve sales in northern Europe where the affluent were still immune to the suv pandemic, but bought far more premium wagons to sedans.

    JLR deserve some credit for that particular volte-face – we’ve yet to see a Giulia Sportwagon, an probably never will.

  16. Captain says, put your hands on your head. Put your hands on your hips! Heh-heh

  17. In the fallout from axing the new XJ, Julian Thomson lost his job and Gerry McGovern assumed responsibility for the design of both brands. No doubt the XJ will come to light at some point, so we can all better understand why it was cancelled.

    The reality is that Jaguar had the investment from Tata but spent it on the wrong things. They’ve burned through billions but don’t have a huge amount to show for it.

    I am utterly mystified by the failure of the I Pace. Even, say, 20,000 units a year would be a small share of a rapidly growing market. VW seems to think its ID5 is worth up to around £60,000 so you can’t even call it overpriced.

  18. It’s a genuine shame to see Jaguar where they are.
    The design language of the XF & XJ (X351) was excellent.
    If Jaguar could get the iPace EV running gear into an F-Type and an XJ that’s all they would have to do.

    The biggest mistake was trying to play with the German brands at the volume premium game.

    Jaguar should have never built the X-Type or XE.
    There are many private buyers of cars who specifically do not want to look like they have a company car.
    Jaguar could have had that market to themselves.

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