AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The vehicles that Jaguar and Land Rover build are about to go through big styling chnages.
Jaguar North America is launching a new marketing initiative, dubbed the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience.
Essentially a national US roadshow that will stop at some 18 cities across the country, it’s designed to provide consumers with an up-close and personal look at the brand, giving them the chance to sample the entire lineup of current models, arrange test drives and even view some iconic cars from Jaguar’s past.
The tour, which kicks off in Phoenix, Arizona on April 12th, is complimentary and allows consumers to explore the limits of Jaguar’s current vehicles, on closed circuit test courses with experienced instructors such as Adam Andretti, Roberto Guerrero and Davy Jones providing expert tuition on safe performance driving techniques.
According to Jaguar North America’s Brand Vice President David Prior, “the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience provides consumers with a unique opportunity to fully experience the performance ability of our award-winning model line-up. Coupled with the launch of the ALIVE marketing campaign, we are excited by the opportunity to introduce the Jaguar brand in a refreshed, contemporary way.”
The first seven stops on the Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience have already been announced, with others to be revealed shortly. To find out which cities are currently scheduled along with additional information on the program, click on the link below.
[Source: Jaguar North America]
With BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi all having local manufacturing facilities within China, JLR is playing catch up and trying join the club. Last year, JLR sold 42,000 cars in China, a pittance when compared to Audi’s 313,000 sold. With the Chinese luxury automotive market still on the rise, the need for localized manufacturing is increasing and will no doubt help to boost JLR’s sales numbers.
The issue that now exists however, is the Chinese government has been less than accommodating lately when it comes to foreign investment in its automotive industry. Fuji Heavy Industries proposed a joint venture also with Chery Automobile to build Subaru’s in China last year, and has still yet to be informed by the government whether or not the venture will get the go ahead.
“It’s hard to second guess whether the JLR deal would get the green light. But one thing is obvious, it’s getting harder and harder for foreign automakers to get joint venture deal in China,” said John Zeng, the director for industry consultancy LMC Automotive Asia Pacific region.
News that Jaguar and Land Rover won’t exhibit at this year’s North American International Auto Show can be taken as a sign of the diminished importance the Detroit show now plays on the global stage.
There’s more to this story, however, as the reason the two luxury brands will be absent is due to a conflicting schedule with the Auto Expo show in New Delhi, India. While India’s importance as an emerging market can’t be downplayed, the decision has less to do with growing economies and more to do with the fact that JLR parent company Tata Motors, is from India.
In addition, JLR has little new to show a western audience, having already revealed the Jaguar C-X16 and Land Rover DC100 concepts, first at the Frankfurt Motor Show and then at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
JLR has confirmed that executives will still be cruising the show floor. After all, the Range Rover Evoque is on the shortlist for the 2012 Truck of the Year.
Some used to say that Southern California was just about the only place in the world where it was truly practical to drive a British sports car.
Lack of rain meant Lord Lucas, the celebrated “Prince of Darkness” (an ailment related to the Lucas-brand electrical systems used on British cars) rarely struck, while the temperate climate almost never required the services of near useless heaters and leaky convertible tops. Additionally, dry conditions and twisty canyon roads just begged for a bit of enthusiastic motoring, an aspect, which when working well, such machines as Jaguar XK-Es and Austin-Healeys were able to deliver in spades.
Today, British sports cars tend to be a lot more reliable and leak free, as well as considerably faster and even better handling than those machines of yore. Nonetheless, So Cal is still considered to be their spiritual home. As a result, if a company like Jaguar is going to unveil a car with a ridiculous beast of an engine and a convertible top, it makes sense to do it at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
As Jaguar’s global brand director, Adrian Hallmark stated, the XKR-S convertible sacrifices none of the performance of its coupe counterpart and indeed, development mules spent hours and hours being flogged around the Nürburgring. Having sampled the regular XKR ragtop and the XKR-S coupe, we can only wonder the sensation 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque can do in an open top car that boasts a rigid, lightweight aluminum architecture, retuned suspension and steering, plus an upgraded Adaptive Dynamics system compared with the standard R.
Jag claims the flagship XKR-S convertible can sprint from rest to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and will go on to an (electronically limited) top speed of 186 mph. That makes it the fastest open top Jaguar ever built and also one of the most exclusive (Jaguar has said it plans to allocate just 25 examples to the US market for 2012). So if you want one as desperately as we do, better try and get your order in as soon as possible (the coupe version is already sold out).
Besides the ragtop XKR-S, Jaguar also chose Los Angeles as the North American debut for the C-X16 concept, which has been making waves since first being revealed back at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Whether or more likely when, a version of this two-seat gas electric hybrid stunner will reach production still remains to be seen, though we probably shouldn’t rule out the possibility of examples sitting in Jaguar showrooms before the second half of this decade begins.
Gallery: Jaguar XKR-S Convertible
Gallery: Jaguar C-X16 Concept
Despite these uncertain economic times, some luxury car makers have made healthy sales gains in recent months, particularly Land Rover. Along with sister company Jaguar, which had been languishing behind somewhat, the JLR group collectively boasted a 26 percent gain in global sales last month.
Much of the increase came from Jaguar, which saw demand rise by a whopping 157 percent in China, Land Rover, by comparison, reported gains of 85 percent in the same market.
In Europe, demand for both brands was up by some 37 percent, largely fueled by strong demand for new Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar XF diesel.
In North America, where Jaguar Land Rover has been struggling recently, September represented a refreshing turn of events, with demand up by some 10 percent, largely aided by the XF, which is proving quite popular with buyers here.
Phil Popham, Group Sales Director for Jaguar Land Rover went on the record stating that  “has been our strongest September since 2007 when the industry was hit hard by the recession. Since that time we have introduced a host of new models and engines that has driven sales growth and attracted new consumers to our brands.”
It’s nice to know there’s at least some bright spots in an era seemingly dominated by much doom and gloom.
And it promises to be the most radical example of the breed yet, according to inside sources within Jaguar Land Rover.
In addition, in terms of styling it’s also believed to look a lot more like the Evoque than the current Mk 3 Range Rover, boasting a steeper windshield angle and more pronounced creases in the flanks, unlike its predecessor, which is loosely based on the 1970 original in terms of design cues.
Codenamed L405, it will also be larger than the current model, but also significantly lighter, thanks to the use of a pressed aluminum unibody structure, which should save almost half a metric tonne (1100 lbs) in weight. The new architecture will also result in a longer wheelbase, by pushing the rear axle back, resulting in improved back seat legroom, enabling the new Rover to rival upscale, long wheelbase luxury sedans.
In addition, interior quality is expected to take a considerable jump, with emphasis placed on rivaling ultra luxury marques like Bentley, rather appropriate considering that the new Rover will cost more than £100,000 (roughly $160,000) when it eventually does go on sale.
In terms of engines, despite other luxury manufacturers downsizing or turbocharging their offerings, the new Range Rover is expected to retain normally aspirated and supercharged gasoline fueled V8s, though in some markets, especially Europe a diesel will be offered. There’s also rumors of V6s making the cut, including a supercharged version, derived from that seen in Jaguar’s CX-16 concept two-seater, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month. There’s even talk of a gas/electric hybrid version, though it will be interesting to see if that does indeed, reach fruition.
In terms of getting ready to build the thing, Jaguar Land Rover will invest heavily in re-vamping its Solihull, West Midlands assembly plant, particularly to cope with the demands of manufacturing the unique aluminum structure.
The facility, which will be located in Pune, close to existing Tata operations, will produce modular four-cylinder engines and is said to be a virtual ‘carbon copy’ of the company’s new engine plant being set up in the West Midlands, UK.
Both facilities have been conceived so that Jaguar Land Rover can replace, as quickly as possible the four-cylinder gasoline and turbo diesel engines it currently sources from Ford Motor Company, which have proven to be relatively expensive.
Jaguar says that work on the new Indian plant won’t begin until the West Midlands operation is fully up and running, but said that once operations are in full swing; both plants together will have capacity to produce as many as 500,000 engines per year, which will help satisfy growing demand; particularly in China where Jaguar Land Rover already has a local assembly operation.
As for Jaguar’s other engines, namely it’s V-6 and V-8 gas and diesel units, these will continue to be sourced from Ford at Dagenham, Essex, UK, at least for the time being.
Jaguar has some ambitious plans to work alongside its sibling Land Rover brand. The two brands will be launching major production over the next five years with the goal of boosting Jaguar and Land Rover out of their markets and lifting them firmly into the luxury mainstream.
“We’ll be launching 40 new cars, derivatives and (major) technologies from Jaguar/Land Rover in the next five years,” said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar Global Brand Director.
New programs break down into three categories:
- *Products that slot above and below the current Jaguar and Land Rover line-up, as well as those that expand the current line-up’s appeal;
- *Products that can broaden the two brands in markets where they currently don’t have a presence;
- *Technologies that broaden the capabilities of the two brands — possibly including new diesels, hybrids and other advanced propulsion systems.
Hallmark also confirmed the new entry-luxury model that will slip in below the current XF model as well as a higher end crossover, targeting the BMW X5 and Audi Q7. A replacement of the disliked X-Type is essential. Hallmark explained that “That segment is massive.” It is likely that fitting into that sedan segment could become “the most important piece” of Jaguar’s planned product expansion. There is also a strong possibility of a smaller crossover to enter Jaguars lineup, although, “We will not overlap” said Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar and Land Rover CEO.
Electric cars do have a place in Jaguar’s future product portfolio, however company officials were vague on specifics. Speth alluded to pure, battery-powered models “are not the only way to go,” suggesting more conventional hybrids and plug-ins are a more likely focus.
It’s been around in current form since 1983, but the rugged go-anywhere Land Rover Defender can trace its lineage directly back to the first one the company ever built in 1948. Beloved of the British military, farmers, ranchers and explorers the world over, it’s a true icon.
However, there are now rumors circulating that Jaguar Land Rover plans to give the old warrior a serious makeover. No details have been released, or even leaked, though apparently the JLR group is intensively studying what needs to be done before proceeding with development on the ‘next-generation,’ Defender.
Hopefully whatever is decided, the result will stay true to the vehicle’s rugged, practical persona, with short and long wheelbase variants being retained as well as retaining a chassis highly adaptable for different needs (a part of the current model’s enduring appeal).
A concept study is likely to emerge sometime around 2013, with the projected introduction of the actual ‘new’ Defender to follow a couple of years later. In the meantime, if you happen to live outside North America, you can still get your hands on a current Defender and take it places like this.
It’s sometimes hard to believe anything you hear in the news these days. With countries still looking for bailout money (Portugal being the latest) and others struggling to climb out of recession, it would appear that austerity measures are still the norm, rather than the exception.
On the other hand, sales for some luxury goods and services, seem to be on the rise. Take the case of Jaguar Land Rover. On April 6th, the company reported that March 2011 was its best ever sales month with global growth up by some 6 percent over last year.
Much of that increase in demand came, not surprisingly, from China and India, though the UK, North America, parts of Europe and Russia also reported significant gains in vehicle sales.
Naturally Jaguar Land Rover was pleased with the results; Group Sales Operations Director Phil Popham stating that “Despite a challenging business environment, Jaguar Land Rover is flourishing on a global scale with March sales reflecting the confidence consumers have in our brands and products. We have ambitious plans to grow our business and it is clear that there is a strong appetite in the market for exciting new products, powertrains and technologies which will further improve our penetration in key markets and segments.”
Indeed. Although the global sales increase may seem by a fairly small amount; some individual markets, such as Russia for Land Rover and Germany for Jaguar; reported sales gains of almost 50 percent for the month of March. In lean economic times, that’s a sign of strong brand equity.