Despite efforts to shake a perception of poor reliability and punch up its slim lineup with some sleek SUVs, Jaguar remains out of step with the times. The XF, which our Erik Shilling drove back in May, is a perfectly good midsize luxury sedan in a world where most people don’t want sedans and those that do tend to buy an 5 Series or E-Class.
Jaguar has got some soul searching to do, then, especially as Land Rover is raking it in with fresh, fashionable SUVs like the new Defender. In a recent interview with Autocar, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bolloré said the answer to the brand’s lagging sales is to build more upmarket “distinct cars with no overlap,” that don’t have a direct competitor in the market.
[Upcoming Jaguar cars] will be “really modern luxury cars that are the copy of nothing in style or design, the top of technology and refinement, but not looking backwards.
“In desire, it’s similar to Range Rover. We enjoy this type of positioning for Range Rover,” he continued, adding that, although he is “not looking for volume” for the revived Jaguar brand, he believes there is space for higher sales figures.
While Range Rover provides the business model for Jaguar to pursue, its cars won’t be SUVs or crossovers, instead uniquely shaped, lower-slung cars with no direct rivals.
It’s a bold strategy: The luxury brand that’s always been sort of an outcast from the more popular German trio is going to lean even harder into being weird and different. Then again, Jaguar really doesn’t have a whole lot to lose at this point, and it has a small enough range — especially here in the U.S. where the XE is no longer sold — to completely upend everything and start fresh with a roster of more exclusive EVs.
My only concern is that the I-Pace is already a “low-slung car with no direct rival,” and, well, that one isn’t really raking in all the dough at the moment, nor luring many buyers away from Tesla. If you’ve decided not to play in the segments your competitors are and not to sell the types of vehicles people have demonstrated they want, you’re going to have to come out of left field with a product you can convince customers they’d be better off with. And that doesn’t seem like a significantly easier feat.
Nevertheless, that’s the path Jaguar has chosen and the brand has been actively visualizing its future range, according to Bolloré.
Bolloré explained that JLR chief creative officer Gerry McGovern organised a design contest within the firm’s newly united design team to create inspiration for future Jaguars. The team was split into three, and in just three months, they created designs and models that would normally take 18 months. Bolloré said this produced “incredible creativity” and that the design direction and family of models for Jaguar was now decided.
That’s all very exciting. Unfortunately, Jaguar still hasn’t figured out what to put underneath those refreshing designs.
To that end, Jaguar is now looking for an all-electric architecture that is “easy to change in size as necessary” and will support its model plans, but it’s yet to decide whether to create its own or source one from a third party.
So, to recap, Jaguar’s top designers have brainstormed a number of highly creative potential cars that look like nothing else on the road, and the company is steadfast in its commitment to going all electric by 2025. But it still hasn’t figured out an architecture solution yet. Hell, it might just knock one together itself! I’d recommend the company should get cracking, considering EV platforms take a bit longer than an afternoon to develop and even the world’s top automakers have been forced to borrow them from each other — but then I suspect people who get paid many times more than I do are already aware of all that.