Jaguar Doesn't Want To Get Too Popular

jaguar doesnt want to get em too em popular

Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubled in 2016, rising to a 12-year high thanks to the launch of an all-new entry-level sedan and the brand’s first-ever SUV.

The XE and F-Pace, which now account for nearly three-quarters of Jaguar’s U.S. volume, have taken the brand to a high-volume place (relatively speaking) Jaguar hasn’t visited since the X-Type roamed dealer forecourts.

One year ago, those models didn’t exist, and Jaguar was selling fewer than 50 cars per day in America.

Now Jaguar’s on fire. Year-over-year growth is explosive, with Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubling in each of the last ten months and more than tripling in each of 2016’s final three months.

That level of growth can’t be sustained. Jaguar Land Rover North America’s CEO Joachim Eberhardt told Wards Auto, “We have to continue to grow, but we are not looking to grow at the pace we have been.”

All that growth “still does not make us a giant luxury brand,” Eberhardt says. “It makes us a bigger luxury brand that now has scale but is still special and exclusive.”

There’s the key word. Exclusive. “I think that is part of our appeal and something to focus on maintaining,” claims Eberhardt.

What a revolutionary approach for a premium auto brand.

Of course, Jaguar isn’t the only portion of Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover machine. Jaguar, in fact, is the smaller cog. And growth at Land Rover has been significant, as well. Though Land Rover sales are actually down slightly through the first two months of 2017, calendar year 2016 was the brand’s best U.S. sales year ever, with volume across the brand doubling between 2011 and 2016.

Powered by a massive lineup expansion that isn’t yet complete — the Range Rover Velar is up next — Land Rover is entirely present in the heart of the luxury market’s growth sector: SUVs. Land Rover doesn’t sell a single passenger car.

Jaguar, on the other hand, required an SUV to shed its cars-only status. And by launching the F-Pace, Jaguar ended up producing 30 percent of JLR’s U.S. volume in 2016, nearly double its 17 percent share one year earlier. Through early 2017, 35 percent of JLR’s U.S. sales are Jaguar-derived.

But we’ve yet to see whether Jaguar can further its charge into a U.S. luxury market dominated by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW, brands which are capable of selling more vehicles in a single month than Jaguar did all of last year. Comparisons that will show whether the full Jaguar lineup — F-Pace, XE, XF, XJ, F-Type — can grow relative to the volume achieved by the full five-pronged Jaguar lineup in the year-ago period won’t occur for another two months.

Based on Eberhardt’s language, however, it appears as though Jaguar’s expectations are not lofty. Although Jaguar sold more than 50,000 vehicles in America as recently as 2003, 40,000-45,000 sales seems like a more realistic target for 2017. And if that’s alright with Jaguar, it ought to be alright with us, too.

Luxury shouldn’t have to equal popularity. The Mercedes-Benz C-Classes and Lexus RXs and BMW 3 Series sedans grazing every level of every parking garage do a fine job of showcasing to the world the upmarket image of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW, but they certainly don’t represent exclusivity.

The fact Jaguars aren’t seen everywhere, that exclusivity “sets us apart from the others,” Jaguar’s Eberhardt says.

Meanwhile, setting the Jaguar of today apart from the Jaguar of yesterday is the prevalence of diesel engines. 13 percent of the Jaguars sold in the United States through the first two months of 2017 were diesel-powered: 611 diesel F-Paces, 142 diesel XEs, and 62 diesel XFs.

Want exclusivity, a car you’re certain will not appear in your neighbor’s driveway? A diesel-engined midsize Jaguar sedan should do the trick.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Flybrian Flybrian on Mar 30, 2017

    Exclusivity is a good way to explain away why they only move a handful of units each month. Its very hipstery. "My XF is worth $2000 more than your sane year, same mileage LaCrosse because people just don't understand"

  • BrunoT BrunoT on Mar 31, 2017

    Don't sweat it Jaguar, sales will slow plenty when these things start coming back to the dealer with the usual Jaguar problems and word gets out.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 31, 2017

      But... Ford cleared up that problem when they owned it! Tata knows what it's got and won't mess it up.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.
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