Jaguar's Two New Models Instantly Become Jaguar's Best Sellers, New F-Pace SUV Leads The Way
After breaking its one-year-old sales record with a sharp increase to more than 61,000 sales in 2002, Jaguar’s U.S. sales decline began with a vengeance. Jaguar USA volume plunged 80 percent between 2002 and 2009 and has not since recovered. Under Ford Motor Company’s tutelage, Jaguar sold more cars in the United States in 2002 than in the last four years combined.
Yet seemingly overnight, May 2016 played host to a completely revolutionized Jaguar lineup. Year-over-year, U.S. sales at the Jaguar brand shot up 80 percent in May 2016. Thanks to two new products which instantly became Jaguar’s two best-selling models and generated more than half of all Jaguar sales, the Indian-owned British carmaker once again appears poised to approach the borders of America’s premium mainstream.
Poised. Approach. Borders. These are key words.
Poised? Indeed, Jaguar’s not there yet. The entry-level Jaguar XE and F-Pace utility vehicle are only just arriving, though their early days status was nevertheless more than enough for the two new Jaguars to form 58 percent of the Jaguar’s May sales.
Approach? Even with the XE and F-Pace fully ramped up, don’t expect Jaguars to suddenly become just as common as Cadillacs in Cleveland. Jaguar must fight an uphill battle, with a lineup that remains rather small, against consumer loyalty and historic reliability concerns.
Borders? With only 2,164 sales last month, Jaguar USA created less than 1/13th of the volume produced by Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti sales were five times stronger. Porsche sales were more than twice as numerous. And this was in the best month for the Jaguar brand since May 2006, a decade-high in monthly Jaguar volume.
But again, Jaguar is poised to climb higher. May 2016’s U.S. sales results do not represent the climax of Jaguar’s product revolution. And it better not, because even at May’s pace Jaguar couldn’t sell 30,000 vehicles in the United States per year, less than half the total achieved when Jaguar was a small luxury automaker 14 years ago.
British Racing Green aficionados remember that Jaguar has been in this position before. The massive gains seen at Jaguar USA at the dawn of the new millennium also occurred because of a massive and sudden product revolution. After forging ahead with a high-end coupe and variants of the XJ for too long, the Lincoln LS-related Jaguar S-Type stepped in to generate 56 percent of Jaguar’s U.S. volume in 2000. In 2002, Jaguar sales had grown 75 percent in just three years despite an S-Type downturn because the Ford Mondeo-related Jaguar X-Type produced 54 percent of Jaguar’s 61,204 sales.
Sales of the S-Type and its XF successor, however, have declined in 10 of the last 15 years. The X-Type’s early success, meanwhile, dried up almost instantly. After peaking during its first full year of 2002, X-Type sales declined rapidly in every successive year, falling by two-thirds between 2002 and 2005.
So rapid were the declines from every model in Jaguar’s lineup, including the two cars which initially appeared to rescue the brand, that Jaguar USA sold fewer total vehicles in 2014 and 2015 combined than the X-Type managed on its own in 2002.
Of course, this product revolution is different, not only because there’s a handsome SUV involved, but because both the new SUV and the new XE sedan are priced attractively. The F-Pace, slightly larger than popular luxury crossovers such as the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and BMW X3 but slightly smaller than the Lexus RX, is priced from a very reasonable $41,985. The least expensive XE costs less than the Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class; the only BMW 3 Series that costs less than the 240-horsepower Jaguar XE is the 180-horsepower 320i.
Moreover, this product revolution occurs against a very different backdrop. Jaguar’s U.S. sales were 50 percent stronger than Land Rover’s in 2002, but Land Rover USA volume nearly doubled in the last four years alone. Jaguar-Land Rover, now owned by India’s Tata, is far removed from the Ford Motor Company era. And while Jaguar’s U.S. sales results in May did little more than manifest the direction of a brand which is poised to approach the border of America’s luxury mainstream, Jaguar-Land Rover’s global success in May 2016 was unprecedented.
Jaguar-Land Rover sold 44,946 vehicles around the world in May, an 18-percent year-over-year increase thanks to the Land Rover brand’s 6-percent rise to 34,313 sales — three-quarters of the JLR’s total — and a 90-percent increase in Jaguar sales. Nearly three out of every ten Jaguars sold globally in May were F-Paces.
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