You can’t get people to buy vehicles by telling them about the warranty, according to Joe Eberhardt, president and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America. As important as left-brain things like this are, product and emotion come first, he says.
Fortunately, the big cat’s latest crop of vehicles is plenty passionate, with striking performance and evocative styling, both traditional hallmarks of this British brand. “We have a rich history, great tradition, phenomenal design legacy,” Eberhardt told an Automotive Press Association luncheon in downtown Detroit.
“Look at the F-Type, listen to the F-Type,” explained Eberhardt, who described this sultry sports machine as “sheer beauty.” Continuing, he said it has something that’s very appealing to both the eye and the heart.
“The emotional part has always been there to some degree,” said Eberhardt, but Jaguar has often lacked rational attributes, things like quality and value. But in the next model year or two, they’re running at redline to rectify these lingering issues.
“Our investment is now focusing almost exclusively … on the Jaguar brand,” said Eberhardt. This is a shift for the Indian-owned automaker, which, along with Land Rover, is under the Tata umbrella.
Over the past five years, these two divisions have doubled their combined global sales. In 2014, more than 460,000 Jaguars and Land Rovers were delivered, with the latter of these two brands accounting for more than 381,000 of them.
New Product, Better Pricing
“The next couple years will be the time when we fundamentally change the Jaguar brand for good,” noted Eberhardt. “We [will] take the core lineup and basically reinvent it.”
New models will broaden the brand’s appeal. Its upcoming XE compact sedan will compete in the heart of a very lucrative luxury segment. In addition to this all-new sports sedan, for the first time in its long history, the upcoming F-Pace will give Jaguar a utility model to sell to crossover-crazed buyers.
This may seem like an odd decision and one that may step on Land Rover’s toes, but Eberhardt doesn’t seem to believe there will be a conflict of interest. “Think of it [the F-Pace] as more of a [Porsche] Macan or Cayenne direction,” he said, something that’s focused on sporty street dynamics rather than trail-conquering capability.
To support this growth, the company is expanding its manufacturing footprint. They already have three facilities in the U.K., and others in China and India, but they’re moving into Brazil and have their sights set on Slovakia. Jaguar vehicles will also be assembled in Austria by Magna Steyr.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace Video, First Look
Aside from the all-new XF and F-Pace, the brand’s popular XF model has been comprehensively redesigned for the 2016 model year. It rides atop an all-new second-generation aluminum architecture, one that helps it shed up to 265 pounds.
In addition, Jaguar’s XJ flagship has been enhanced for 2016. It gains slightly tweaked exterior styling, new technology and an extra serving of luxury. But perhaps more importantly, it also benefits from a healthy dose of value.
Product planners have added more than $7,000 in extra equipment to the XJ, things like ventilated front and rear seats, full LED headlamps and the brand’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. Base price for this car is around $74,400, thousands less than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 or Porsche Panamera.
Beyond this, the F-Type sports car also gains a healthy dose of no-charge extras. And if that weren’t enough, the XE, F-Pace and redesigned XF all compare very favorably with rivals when it comes to pricing, something that hasn’t always been the case with Jaguars.
Going the Distance
“Competing with Mercedes, BMW … and Lexus is quite challenging,” acknowledged Eberhardt. Despite having emotional products, Jaguar still has to appeal to customers’ basic needs, which is something else they’re working to address.
Aside from performing well in third-party quality surveys such as those published by J.D. Power, the company is introducing a new ownership package. Starting with model year 2016, every model comes standard with Jaguar EliteCare, which shields customers from headaches with a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but that’s not all. This coverage also includes 24-hour roadside assistance, complimentary scheduled maintenance and unlimited-mileage access to the company’s InControl Remote & Protect telematics system.
“We have the most complete and broadest product lineup in our history,” said Eberhardt. But that’s not all it takes to win buyers in the cutthroat luxury segment. Along with fresh vehicles, Jaguar is also hitting hard with a one-two punch of value and protection, something that should help grow its sales in the coming years.
Eberhardt admitted, “Because of the small size, we may not be on the radar screen of the [larger] competitors.” But if the strategy they’ve put in place is successful, you can bet they’ll have a big crosshair on their back in the not-too-distant future.
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