Desperately Seeking Sales: Jaguar's SUVs Are Not Keeping Volume Steady

desperately seeking sales jaguars suvs are not keeping volume steady

For a builder of sexy vehicles with an enviable heritage, Jaguar always seems to be in a state of semi-crisis. From past reliability issues to a combination of aging and lackluster products under Ford’s oversight, the storied British brand was then cast off like a pair of trousers at Lover’s Lane, only to see its fortunes rise after its purchase by India’s Tata Motors. Cash poured in and product development ramped up.

When the sport/luxury F-Pace SUV arrived in 2016, Jaguar’s volume saw a corresponding boost, helping squash another threat: the rapidly growing hatred of sedans by a voraciously pro-utility American public. But you know what they say about things that go up…

After struggling out of the recession under new ownership, U.S. Jaguar sales tripled between 2012 and 2017. The biggest jump occurred between the 2015 and 2016 calendar years, when annual volume doubled.

There’s one vehicle to blame for that increase: the F-Pace, introduced in May of 2016. Never mind that Jag also introduced a new XJ flagship at the beginning of the decade, following it up with an XF midsizer, XE compact, and F-Type coupe. Any doubts that existed in the mind of purists were laid to rest after seeing what an SUV could do for a moribund car-only brand’s sales.

Naturally, Jaguar decided its SUVs should move downward in both price and size, with the first E-Pace sales hitting the U.S. books in January of this year. What’s happened since then?

By the end of July, overall Jaguar volume dropped 30.9 percent, year-to-date, despite the addition of a new model. The total of 6,903 F-Pace vehicles sold in the U.S. over the first seven months of 2018 is 40.5 percent lower than the same period last year, and the E-Pace can’t make up the difference. Since January, Jag added 1,753 E-Paces to its brand-wide tally, but lost 4,696 F-Paces. Sedans and coupes can’t be counted on to jump into the fray and boost volume.

In terms of cars, Jaguar sold 8,011 of them over the first seven months of the year. The same period last year? Jag unloaded 12,524 sedans and coupes. As with most other automakers, Jag’s product mix is skewing heavily towards SUVs, and those SUVs need to sell well, pay off their development costs, and send a continuous flood of gravy to head office. There’s reason to believe the electric I-Pace, due out soon, will give Tesla’s Model X and perhaps S a run for its money, though we have to wonder what the margins are on the new green Jag.

While still a relatively new model, it looks like the F-Pace has peaked. However, given the public’s growing demand for SUVs of all stripes, you never know what the future holds for the model. What’s clear is that the burden placed on Jaguar SUVs will only grow heavier.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 01, 2018

    BTW most ugliest cars are Infinitis. I cannot fathom how people are able to convince themselves into buying these abominations.

  • LeaperNYC LeaperNYC on Sep 03, 2018

    Provocative post and - for the most part - good thoughtful discussion. Few thoughts: We don't yet know the outcome of Maserati or Alfa Romeo's strategies. Time will tell. Jaguar had a string of super successful launches both critically and (by their own historical standards) commercially: '09 XF, '11 XJ, '13 F-Type, '17 F-Pace. Indications so far for the '19 I-Pace are encouraging. So there do not appear to be any broad issues around overall design direction or technology investment. Jag's sister brand Land Rover (which outsells it 5:1 at higher price points) has played the SUV craze so well that one might legitimately still ask whether tall Jags are even needed. This just leaves the recent launches of '15 XE and XF, and the '18 E-Pace, none of which caused a splash. All have interiors that don't live up to brand expectations, and none are performance leaders. XE and E-Pace in particular were meant to multiply overall sales by bringing new buyers into the brand, but failed. Still, Jaguar was viable before these growth investments, so their failure is unlikely to sink the brand. When someone sees a gorgeous car on the road and thinks it is a Hyundai before realizing it's a Jag, you are merely observing how far the Koreans have progressed, and how rare and attractive Jaguars remain. (Those Italians look Korean too. Besides, plenty of Germans and Japanese cars also resemble each other - we just see more of them.) Jag owners are car lovers. There are fewer of us than ever, since as a society we are past peak (ICE) auto. My '09 XF Super (@116k) still looks and runs like new, and garners way more attention than newer Germans. Future plans involve a used '16 XJL Portfolio and perhaps eventually an electric Jag. If you're in the market for a comparable vehicle, imho you'd be crazy not to consider a JLR product. Grace, space and pace with British flair (and modern quality) remain uniquely attractive.

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Sep 04, 2018

      I've never mistaken the Giulia for anything else. Its striking without going overboard (hello, Lexus). Yes, the Koreans have come up, but they aren't the most beautiful cars on the road. The point is, Jags now look a lot more anonymous than they ever have in their past. It isn't so much that Hyundai-Kia have reached Jag, its that Jag has fallen to the point to where they've lost their identity. People like to complain about the retro cars, but at least they looked like Jags, and I remember seeing a lot of them on the road.

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.