By on January 29, 2007

f-type222.jpgOnce upon a time, a dapper German auto exec named Wolfgang Rietzle dreamed of running BMW. When the Bavarians gave Wolfie the cold shoulder (twice), he left their employ to build his own, even larger fiefdom: the Premier Automotive Group (PAG). Technically, Ford owned Wolfie’s farrago of upmarket car brands. But as far as Wolfie was concerned, “his” five luxury marques vould vun day rule ze vorld! Three years later, Bill Ford tried to fail Wolfie upwards. The mad professor banked his bucks and blew town, leaving a Frankensteinian monster for Ford to fix. Yesterday, Ford said it lives! I say, grab your pitchforks!

According to Ford’s Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair, the Premier Automotive Group will make a profit in ’07. Although the Jaguar brand is drowning in a sea of red ink and Land Rover is treading water, Leclair sees Volvo’s bank balance as a rising tide, lifting PAG's financial results. He predicts Volvo’s gains will cancel out Jaguar’s epic losses, and them some.

At the same time, Aston’s upcoming sale will generate $1b or so, making the whole PAG bottom line thing look mmmmighty fine. For a company that’s seen its U.S. market share melt like a popsicle in a sauna, a carmaker that’s hocked everything up to and including its own logo, a multinational enterprise that dropped $27b last year, this is extremely welcome news. OK, “informed speculation.”

If Ford gets Jaguar back on track and into the black, the automaker can serve some major humble pie to all those analysts who told them to deep six Jag (and Aston, Land Rover, Mazda and Mercury) and build a few nice Fords, for Christ’s sake. There’s only one problem: it ain’t gonna happen.

Automotive News reports that Volvo has generated about $1b a year since Ford created PAG back at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, the winning streak ended last year, in the second and third financial quarters. Automotive News attributes Volvo’s declining sales to its “aging product line;” which is only kinda true.

Yes, the S60’s ’01 roots are showing. But the XC90 was da bomb back in ’03, the S40 and S50 are box fresh (’05), and the C70 refresh is in da house. Looking ahead, the S80 and XC70 are scheduled for an ’08 update. Volvo’s stalwart V70 is up for renewal early next year. Whatever bounce Volvo gains from these models may restore their bank balance, but it won’t send it into the stratosphere.

To really stoke-up the financial furnace, Volvo’s called brand extenders (we ain’t afraid of no ghost). In the late summer, the funky chunky C30 hatchback appears. Next year, the XC90’s mini-me, the XC60, checks in. Yes, but– to iron out all the bugs, Volvo will be “soft launching” these models in Europe. In other words, even if they’re a hit, it’ll be a couple of years before they’ll make any significant contribution to Volvo’s bottom line.

Meanwhile, Jaguar is busy dying. TTAC has obtained Jag’s final worldwide numbers for ’06 (ironically enough, the American department responsible for collating the data was recently cut back). Last year, Jaguar sold 75,013 vehicles, down from the previous year’s total of 89,802. 

In many ways, Jag’s ‘06 sales mix is even more depressing. In the American market, Jag dealers sold roughly five thousand examples of each of its four models. Abroad, Jag sales tilted heavily towards the British marque’s entry level whips. The X-Type generated 27,305 sales, while the S-Type clocked-up 13,222 (as compared to 7250 XJ’s and 6540 XK’s).

On one hand, the relatively strong sales of Jag’s cheaper models may indicate that the brand’s finally gaining traction amongst younger buyers– at least overseas. On the other hand, it may not. Anyway, last year, Jag lost $750m– just over $10k per car.

Ford claims Jag’s losses will fall to $500m this year, $300m next. How? Either the company is about to cut production big style or… what? The new fish-faced XK is pretty much dead in the water. The X, XJ and S are long in the tooth; only the S is close to emerging from reconstructive surgery (Spring ’08).

What’s more, 4Car reports that Jaguar’s bosses have yet to sign-off on a new model range. And no wonder. While there’s talk of axing the XJ in favor of a crossover or resurrecting the F-type, Jaguar’s current product mix has trapped the upmarket brand in down-market Hell. Taking the X and S out of the portfolio would be catastrophic.

All of which leaves Jaguar where it’s been for the last seven years: an open wound draining Ford’s precious bodily fluids. It’s time– past time– for the pain to stop. Ford’s not-so-freshly- minted CEO Alan Mulally continues to talk about his company’s need to “face reality.” The reality is that Jaguar is a lost cause Ford can no longer afford.  

[This piece replaces an editorial based on factual inaccuracies. I apologize to Jaguar, and to those of you whose comments disappeared along with the previous piece. Please feel free to repeat your remarks below. RF]

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34 Comments on “Ford Death Watch 24: Jaguar: Momento mori...”


  • avatar
    jerry weber

    There is something about British car companies that seem to be the gift that keeps on taking. Perhaps ford and gm are bad examples of owners of foreign luxury brands. We have only to look at vw and bmw both finding ways to make luxury brands thrive. VW with it's bentley took a moribund also ran and made it into a superstar. Nobody liked the underpinnings when they were sold here as VW phaetons. But the same chassis for three times the dough surrounded by a bentley body, now that sells. Then there is Bmw with there mini cooper. It was a little rust bucket in the original English rapper, but what a star now. In both of these cases the Germans gave the English their best hardware and the public saw it for what it was. Ford gave Jaguar LS lincoln chassis and something from Europe for the x type. Neither were much good in their original iterations and they did nothing for Jaguar. The mini has the highest resalve value of any car period. This is four years into the brand with a mild change coming up. Don't listen to me read what the auto press says of the little boxes that are "go carts for adults" that is sheer fun to drive. Ford must leave jaguar behind and build good fords first, maybe then they would have a good chassis to use under a foreign luxury nameplate.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    What other automotive periodical (paper or Internet) would openly withdraw an entire article for factual inaccuracies?

    Good on you, RF!

    BTW, BMW was not all that much smarter than Ford when it came to managing its Briitish purchase, the Rover Group. It bled so much money from BMW that insiders called Rover “The English Patient”.

    To Its good fortune, BMW was smart enough to keep the Mini brand, sell Land Rover to Ford, and dump the rest of it on some starry-eyed investors basically for assuming Rover’s debt load.

  • avatar
    John

    I had a ’69 XKE coupe and my loins still ache whenever I see one. While that F type doesn’t look too bad in your picture, (hope they didn’t weld on the Ford econobox rear) the whole thing still looks a little puffy in comparison. Why don’t they just borrow a play from Detroit and reintroduce the XKE with some intelligent updates?

  • avatar
    Dream 50

    This is horrible. Jags, for the most part, have always been sexy cars in need of a little reliability. The sedans created under Ford’s watch more or less contained the original styling themes that made Jaguars beautiful. In a sea of Bangalized creases and folds, Jags still stand out in a crowd. Is there no room in the market for a cozy, low slung sedan with a small greenhouse and a tasteful leather and wood interior? Surely enough demand exists for a thowback to all that is British and good?

    Calling for the death of something to stop the hemhorage of red ink is easy but as car guys, though, can’t we pause and ponder the beauty of a landscape that includes all sorts of varieties of autos? If we all drive Beemers and Acuras, though they may be superior cars, isn’t something lost?

    Granted, I will likely never be in the market for a new luxury sedan, so my opinion means little to market researchers. However, as with Oldsmobile, the death of Jaguar ought to be a day of much sorrow and lament.

    Keith

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    I think the E-type would be very hard, if not impossible, to replicate, even with what we might call “intelligent updates.” I recall seeing the F-type almost five years ago, on the cover of Car and Driver, when supposedly it was done deal. It looked good to me then and, even in the photo here at TTAC, still does. Jaguar needs what they call in football (and everywhere else these days) “a Hail Mary pass.” If Ford can afford it, they should build the F-type and start a racing program around it; remibursing privateers who race it and win – in SCCA, NASA and whatever other series it can be entered into. Racing may not ensure sales success – if indeed it ever did. However, it would be a way to win younger buyers – younger meaning someone below the age of 45. As I recall, the GTP cars that Group 44’s Bob Tullius campaigned on Jaguar’s behalf in (now defunct) IMSA may not have done as much for the marque as four wins at Le Mans did in the Fifties; but it did give Jaguar renewed cache that helped them sell a few more cars, as well as convince The Powers That Be at Ford to buy the works, outright, in 1989. The F-type would be a long shot. But at this point, maybe Jaguar has nothing left to lose?

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Forget the f-type (I believe it became a basis for a Aston Martin ) what Jaguar needs is an XJ13 – after all everybody lusted after a Ford GT.

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    I think Jaguar has it’s halo car now – the XK – and so should focus on improving it’s saloon cars. It’s easy to call the X-type a “failure” or a “betrayal” but if it sells the most then it’s important.

    If Jaguar/Ford focused on making the X-type and S-type the best cars they could be then maybe Jag wouldn’t bleed red ink. Certainly there is a market for small AWD sedans with power (WRX)… Why can’t the X-type be the high luxury WRX? The S-type should be attracting people who want luxury but with more elegance (as opposed to say, a Lexus)… They all need more power and a refresh. I think it’s a total waste that they came out with a new XK while neglecting their breadwinners (well, bread losers).

    It was a mistake of Ford’s to kill the I6 and V12 though, and to make the X-type FWD in the base European model.

  • avatar
    bullybeats

    Sadly, Jaguar’s time has finally arrived. PAG’s takeover may have drawn out the ineviteable; but in the market Jaguar is aiming for there is simple too much competition. This was different back in the days of the E-Type and the MkII, but if you are in the market for a “high cachet” car these days, Jaguar is one of the first names to come up. Lexus and the other upmarket Japanese companies beat it in reliability, the Germans beat it in sportiness and the “individualist’s choice” will not bring in enough money. I like Jaguar, I really do, but the reality of the car market these days is that aoll the qualities that made Jaguar famous can now be found in a number of competitors, which was not the case in the 60s and 70s.
    I agree the “Halo car” would have been a good idea and may have turned the company around, but that Halo car needed to be introduced five years ago when there was stil a fighting chance. Nowadays it’s just too little too late. I will be sad when Jaguar closes its doors but I don’t think there is any more lifes left for the once proud cat.

  • avatar
    rtz

    The XJ is the only real Jag. Mercedes are just Chryslers these days.

    What killed Jag is when Ford took that Contour/Taurus and made a Jag out of it. The S type I believe it was. One of those years(2001?), you could take all three cars, all being the same color, take off the decals/emblems and would be hard pressed to identify each of them if you didn’t know them intimately.

  • avatar
    Captain Neek

    When last did Jag make a great, or even good, car? Is there a single thing that Jag does better than any other car manufacturer? Where is its 3-series, S-type or MX5? To be honest, there is no justification for keeping Jag alive, or on life-support, as the case may be. The line-up of current vehicles consists of a design which is derivative of an aston martin (XK); a rehash of a 20-year old design (XJ); pastiche of a bygone era (S-type) and shotgun marriage of Jag "design language" with a mondeo chassis (X-type). The X-type is, surely, the only proof required that Jag is bankrupt of ideas. At least if someone administers the coup de grace to Jag we will be able to speak fondly of the dead…

  • avatar
    jurisb

    ford should realize that there are homegrown marques that generate half of sales because they are their mammas son`s and always the best( even if they are zit- faced ) and completely foreign brands that even having a corner shop here in states don`t make them local buddies. ford like giant squid screws its huge tentacles around foreign brands in anticipation to suck out premium juices like platforms , dohc engines etc. or it reminds a drowning dog that grabs everything that`s around him. why ford being in financial agony still bought foreign luxury brands? because they had a little more money than engineering capacity to create their own lincolns and mercurys. noone perceives in europe aston martin as premium ford. it`s wishful thinking for created tangible goods of america that are actually not created by her. mazda is small cars platform and engines donor, volvo- safety systems donor,aston martin- premium sports car image donor, jag- luxury image donor. when ford proudly revealed mercury messenger concept they promised to veer away from rebadging fords and creating distinctive looks( keep on dreaming) for upcoming mercurys. but seems ford learns nothing of mistakes. and today mercury itself is not even rebadged ford, but rebadged mazda clone. what is the next level of decline? veer away from car manufacturing to making PAG cigarette lighters or PAG napkins? or PAG computergames with cool car pictures? ford- sell the brand s that have never belonged to you- nor mentally nor technologically, and work on your own- licoln- mercury ford. and you will regain trust from consumers. doing cheap tricks and pranks by bying, regrilling , renaming and refreshing -junkyards will drown you comletely. for the money generated create all new large platform for lincoln brand. medium platform for smaller ls size licolns and fusion size ford. 2 billions should be poured into engines- all new- 3.5 liter vvt. and small engine 1.8-2liters, . (not mazda derivatives.) if you want luxury, you have to create it not fake it. because those who buy luxury , are educated and choosy and will not tolerate thriftness aftertaste to quality, originality or cache. [email protected]

  • avatar
    macarose

    No other brand in the automotive lexicon ‘brakes’ my heart more than Jaguar.

    Here is a marque that gave us one of the most beautiful bodies of the last 50 years with the 1966 Jaguar XKE coupe. A true classic that will still be seen as a work of beauty for many decades to come.

    Here is a company that Ford spent several billions to turn around…. and succeeded. Jaguar went from the very bottom of quality control to the upper echelons within a span of a decade. They also had a very good product line-up by the end of the 1990’s. For a company that had as many problems as Jaguar did during the early 1990’s this was an absolute triumph.

    Finally and I’m probably going to catch flack for saying it here, but what the hell. Jaguar has unfortunately been subjected to the very worst product development I have ever seen in the last God knows how many years. Here is a company that built cars that were meant to compete with the finest in the world. And what happens???? The Jaguar F’n X-Type. A car based on a diminutive chassis that was guaranteed to alienate the North American market with it’s knees up the driver’s ass rear seats.

    Then we have an S-Class that was reminiscent of a Ford Taurus meeting Wally the Walrus. That vehicle, in my opinion, was a disgrace due to its distortionistic proportions and Rubbermaid style dashboard. However, in balance, the XJ’s and XK’s were both very wdell done during these past several years and I wish Jaguar had been given the green light to explore the pricing points of both models to a greater degree. They were both winners and the development of product variants (wagons for the XJ abd specxial luxury editions that accentuated interior luxury materials for both) could have kept the Jaguar prestige and potential for profit in play.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    What would be so wrong about Jaguar going down-market into the “entry-level luxury” market? (Think Acura)

    Funny thing, but whenever I hear the name Jaguar, I think “Sports” first, and “Luxury” a distant second. Shouldn’t Jag start focusing more on their rich sporting heritage.

    Face it, there are simply too many luxury car makers. Could Jag ever really compete against giants like Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes?

    If the X-Type and S-Type sell so well, why not concentrate on those? Make ’em pretty, drivable, and RWD. Run each with a coupe version, say an F-Type and a G-Type. Keep the XJ and XK as halo models only.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Ahh…. I was wondering where that last article went!

    Following is my previous comment and then some

    Anyways, my simple plan for Jaguar is to create a Miata, Pontiac/Saturn coupe, Z4, TT competitor. A reliable coupe, brings back memories of MGs. Hopefully this would generate interest in the brand building on Jaguar’s racing history. It would be a mainstream version of the Lotus Elise. After that, Jaguar would offer a 5-Series/A6/E-Class competitor, 911 competitor and 7-Series/A8/S-Class competitor.

    Where are they finding these PAG managers? Why does it take a year or two to get a product? How long did it take for us from seeing the new Passat to actually being able to drive it? Same goes for the C30. Certainly it takes a lot to engineer and manufacture a new model, but why are we getting concepts and the actual car 2-3 years later?

    K.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    Jaguar cant compete with MB, BMW and Audi. They need to turn it down a notch or two and go after Acura and Lexus.

    they need to put the V8 from the mustang into the F-type. give it that old-school feel with a loud engine and a long hood.

  • avatar
    frontline

    Ferociously down size the Jaguar company. Throw everything at the new 08 X Please design from the outside in

    Cut production on the rest of the line to triple digits…. Let them die in peace …people may want them if they can`t get them!

    I don`t think the dealers can sue if the line -up is
    massively downsized.

    In time we might see little boutiques in highline shopping areas selling just a few Jaguars, and making a profit.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I agree with Yourenamehere. With so many quality luxury performance cars on the market, Jaguar just cant move enough product to become profitable. With the exception of the few handlebar moustached enthusiasts on the fringes of automotive society, Jaguar doesnt exactly have a loyal following. This compounded with the exceptional reputation of Brittish engineering and manufacturing has left the company dying a slow death.

    If FOMOCO has a morbid need to pump millions of mortgaged cash into a dead company. so be it. But remember, Ford has already cross-bread the Mustang with a cat. It was called the Cougar.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    How is it even remotely possible to lose $10K on a $60K car? Especially when said $60K car is built on a $30K car chassis? I see why Ford keeps trying. It seems impossible that they couldn’t turn a profit. Unfortunately it is clear they can’t. Isn’t the definition of insanity trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

  • avatar

    The real problem is Jaguar’s move downmarket. What is the point of having a portfolio of brands if they are all going to overlap. Jaguar should have stayed from $60,000 to $120,000 and had two sedans, maybe an SUV, and a sports car that could take on the 911.

    It doesn’t help that the new XK is not as sexy as it should be. The S-type always looked a bit too much like a bloated whale, and the X-type was the worst wannabe car out there. Ford killed the brand like it does with every other brand they get their hands on.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Jaguar: So sexy… so much pain. [*whip crack*]

    Clearly, this nice naïve American boy (i.e. Ford) is too polite to make this naughty girl change her depraved ways.

    Hopefully Ford will sell her to someone who can make something of her before this alluring brand bleeds to death.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    The sales statistics tell the on-overcomeable problem Jaguar faces: The X sells reasonably well in Europe, where down market premium cars are in demand, at the expense of brands like Opel and Ford. Lexus, Acura and Infinity are essentially a non-entity in Europe.

    In the US, the X (and S) is dead; too much competition from the the Japanese and German smallish/mid size premium cars. The XJ is too invisible, and the XK?; might as well go for an Aston with better looks and exclusivity.

    Jag is literally between a rock and a hard place, trying impossibly to compete in a global market with differing competitive issues. Good-night Jaguar; it was nice knowing you. I think I’d rather have Jaguar dreams than keep having to face the its reality .

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    The Chinese will buy Jaguar, reproduce the XKE body, slap it on their “Cherry” chasis and sell a billion of them.

  • avatar
    NickR

    At the same time, Aston’s upcoming sale will generate $1b or so
    How can that be so? From what I remember from finance class, the value of a company’s stock is the net present value of the company’s future free cash flows, discounted by the company’s weighted average cost of capital. A takeover is largely a purchase of a company’s stock, with some adjustments for goodwill, trademarks and patents, and the market value of it’s fixed assets. And Ford is trying to say that combing all these things for Aston Martin will net 1 billion dollars? If there are any investment bankers here who can tell me how Ford might net 1 billion from Aston Martin, I’d love to hear it.

    the relatively strong sales of Jag’s cheaper models may indicate that the brand’s finally gaining traction amongst younger buyers

    Attracting them is one thing, keeping them is another. The X-type has terrible quality, as does the S-type. All these cars will do is confirm in the minds of a younger audience what they’ve heard for years, that English cars are terrible, and send them scurrying back to the arms of Lexus or what have you.

    As an aside, I was in a Jag dealership the other day, picking up a friend, and while I was waiting I sat in a new XJ Super 8 (that’s what they called it). The centre stack is one of the worst I have seen. A sea of indistinguishable buttons. What a nightmare.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    NickR: That formula is all too often not used: it’s what the market will bear, between consenting (and often foolish) adults.

  • avatar
    dean

    Paul:

    Since Aston Martin is not individually traded, its value as a division would probably be evaluated much as NickR suggests.

    Where the consenting (and foolish) adults part comes in is in the valuation of goodwill and trademarks. That is the x-factor in the $1 billion discussion.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Yes, don’t discount the value of the intangible assets (patents for technologies and copyrights for brand, names and likenesses). Just the name, Aston Martin, might be worth far more than foreseeable earnings from current operations to a sucker buyer with plans to exploit the marquee.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    dean & William: what I meant is what you both said. The formula is surely a part of the equation, but all too often, only a small part. I can think of a very long list of companies where the sale transaction price had very little to do with that formula, like in the $2.5 billion Ford paid for Jaguar.

  • avatar
    UCBert

    Ford has never had a premium car. The PAG concept was to provide premium cars to an American brand.

    By going upmarket, you gain pricing power. You can’t make good margins on Fords today. Even in Britain, salarymen drive more BMWs than Fords (in contrast to ten years ago).

    Ford (and GM) need the premium segment, as does VW.

    Under Ford, Jaguar is actually a good/safe/reliable car for the first time. The XJ is one of the world’s best cars, hidden behind a proper, British, conservative (though advanced aluminum) skin.

    Ford may have mismanaged PAG, but there’s more there in long-term value than in Fs (Fusion, Freestyle, Fairlane, 500). IMHO

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    UCBert: Ford’s Lincoln was once the most premium brand in the land. Think (original 1939) Continental, and the beautiful (“JFK”) 1961 through 1968 Lincolns,

  • avatar
    stressed_member

    I’ve just spent the day test driving used cars, and the best car by far was the Ford Mondeo. Its great to drive, the quality of the interior is good, it has loads of toys, refined, powerful diesel engine giving 50mpg, is cheap to fix, very reliable and to pop the cherry on top, its cheap as chips.

    If its so good then why is it so cheap, I hear you say. ‘cause nobody bloody wants them, the little blue oval badge just doesn’t cut it anymore. Its not as exclusive as the Bemmers, Audis, Mercs, etc. that are quickly starting to out-number it.

    So what else can Ford do, it makes a car which is easily the class of the market but its still not good enough. It’s a bread and butter badge and people want more these days and can afford it. Its amazing just how much that tiny little inanimate piece of metal can make to the way a car looks, feels and drives, in peoples minds anyway.

    Enter the x-type, among others, a Ford Mondeo with a badge and some slabs of plasticy woody type stuff, which shows pretty damn good planning and foresight by Ford.

    Where it all failed in my opinion was thinking that the people who bought s-types and fell in love with the e-type were still about. They’re not. They’re mostly dead and the ones that aren’t did buy s-types. I see them all the time. Mouth drooped in concert with their car slumped over the steering wheel. The x-type looks like a fat xj mini-me before the xj got locked in the store room with the kitty treat supply. A shame.

    I think they got it right with the XF concept. That’s a car that I can see bank robbers using. An essential quality in a jag. A car which translates the feeling of a jag to the modern axiom rather than being a modern caricature. Just in time to be late.

  • avatar
    UCBert

    Paul Niedermeyer:

    Yes they were beautiful, but Ford did not build a strong brand. In the 60s, Lincoln was a poor second to Cadillac.

    American car companies could never manage to build long-term equity at the top end. Cadillac, Imperial (a joke for most of its automotive life, and a joke of a concept last year), and Lincoln had style, but no lasting values other than bulk, huge overhangs, and aquatic suspensions.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I am surprised that nobody here suggested the obvious: Continue and improve the small Jaguar sedans in Europe where they are selling well (X & S) while focusing the US sales on the XJ and XK class of vehicles. Next add a premium Miata/Solstice size sports car and a, yuk, premium SUV.

    Also, disband the PAG notion within FoMoCo. To date Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston and Lincoln have had almost nothing in common. The added layer of PAG management has simply ****** things up.

    An interesting side note is the recent Automotive News story suggesting that Ford is getting ready to import several models from it’s Ford Europe line into the US. Didn’t someone here suggest doing so as a way to save the Mercury brand? Maybe Mulally is reading TTAC?????

  • avatar
    UCBert

    Can anyone spell Merkur?

  • avatar
    vento97

    Check out this article… How’s this for putting lipstick on a pig?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17003763/

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