Desperately Seeking Sales: Jaguar's 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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