Home » Jaguar Seeks A Way Out Of ‘Mediocrity’ With Smaller, More Expensive Lineup

Jaguar Seeks A Way Out Of ‘Mediocrity’ With Smaller, More Expensive Lineup

New Project
ADVERTISEMENT

About 10 years ago, if you were a luxury brand on the rise, the playbook was generally “Try and do what BMW’s doing.” Lexus added a very distinctive (if you want to use that adjective) grille to its cars and added a level of performance we hadn’t seen before. Alfa Romeo had big plans for a full lineup that never materialized. Cadillac took a similar shot in one of its many reinventions and quite a few of those cars remain beloved today.

In my mind, the non-German brand that came closest to matching BMW was probably Jaguar, which by the end of the last decade had a big lineup of sedans, wagons, crossovers, a fairly underappreciated EV and a firecracker of a sports car. Problem was, if everyone’s BMW then no one is BMW, and in the case of most of those brands—Jaguar included—the effort didn’t turn into sales.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

We lead off today’s (Tesla-free, just to prove we can!) morning news roundup with Jaguar’s plan for what’s next; what we know of Chevrolet’s plan to un-kill the Bolt; some updates on the Detroit Auto Show; and why the Porsche 911 will be the brand’s gasoline sole-survivor. Let’s go!

More On Those Jaguar Comeback Plans

Jaguar F Type 75 5

Frequent morning roundup customers probably know by now that Jaguar is one brand I keep a particular eye on (Mazda is another) as the car industry collectively Figures Out What’s Next. It has different problems than Mazda does, though; despite a fairly generous owner in Tata, corporate cousin Land Rover is the one that pays the bills, it’s struggled with a number of economic and production challenges including Brexit, and that “make lots of gasoline performance crossovers like BMW” plan is as dated as trying to look like a character from Mad Men when you wear a suit.

ADVERTISEMENT

Or even wearing a suit, period. I don’t even remember the last time I did that. Sometime before the virus hit, I think. Even the Finance Bros here in New York just wear fleece vests and white sneakers now.

So now, like Blur going back on tour again, Jaguar wants to recapture the British magic it felt it had in the 1990s, before it got absorbed into Ford and had to make all sorts of compromises. Take it away, Automotive News Europe:

“This brand was incredibly successful in North America 25 years ago before we took the compromises and the decisions we made,” JLR CEO Adrian Mardell told investors last month.

Jaguar’s past U.S. success is now “lost within Ford Motor Company data,” said Mardell, who was confirmed as JLR CEO on July 20 after holding the position on an interim basis.

Mardell joined JLR in 1990, the year after Ford bought the company. Back then, Jaguar was targeting a much richer customer.

The brand hopes to be similarly successful with its new, more luxurious range. “There are 20 million millionaires in the U.S. alone,” Mardell said. “So, a lower volume, higher price positioning is absolutely the right position for Jaguar today.”

[…] Jaguar expanded its range in recent years to include three sedans, three crossovers and a sports car in a bid to create a British version of BMW.

However, trying to appeal as many premium buyers as possible pushed the brand into “mediocrity,” JLR Chief Creative Officer Gerry McGovern said at the same investor event, held at JLR’s HQ in Gaydon, central England.

I think “mediocrity” is a little too harsh, if we’re being honest; I don’t think the brand that gave us the F-Type should be so hard on itself! But hey, money talks and bullshit walks.

As someone who is only a successful American thousandaire at this point, I’m not in the customer base the New Jaguar is aiming for: wealthy, upscale, more exclusive. This story even says Jaguars will not be offered in every JLR dealership. The company’s going to focus on the SUVs in its strange “House of Brands” strategy for volume, while Jaguar rolls out stuff like an electric four-door GT car slated to cost $129,000.

McGovern added this:

ADVERTISEMENT

“What we will not worry about is being loved by everybody, because that is the kiss of death,” he said. “That is what put Jaguar in the situation it is in today, which is with no equity whatsoever.”

We don’t often hear that level of candor from an automaker about their problems.

Why The Chevy Bolt Aims To Mount A Comeback

2022 Chevrolet Bolt euv And Bolt ev Ship To Dealers 40
Photo: GM

At the same time, I’m not convinced the world needs another six-figure electric luxury car; ask Lucid about that. What it does need is more affordable electric cars, and I think just about everyone would agree with that—whether they just think EVs are a great option to have or if they think the whole business is going battery-powered.

General Motors made the rare decision yesterday to un-shoot itself in the foot by reviving the Chevrolet Bolt after announcing its cancellation this year. Apparently killing its top-selling EV—and one of the few super-affordable ones on the market—went over like a lead balloon. Now, the Bolt’s tech is getting old (it doesn’t fast-charge on the level new rivals can) and its dated battery setup and platform made it deeply unprofitable for GM.

The solution, apparently, is to build a new, small, still-affordable Bolt using Ultium: GM’s new battery and software platform that will underpin all its future EVs. Scale, baby, scale! That’s how this Bolt might actually make GM some money.

Here’s best-in-the-biz journalist, Autopian contributor and friend John Voelcker with some analysis over at ChargedEVs:

ADVERTISEMENT

How GM fits its Ultium cells into a vehicle that may use some or much of the current Bolt’s understructure remains to be seen. The rectangular Ultium cells used in North America appear too wide to install them in the two parallel rows seen in the Equinox and Blazer EVs. GM has long touted the flexibility of its Ultium cells, however, which can be packaged into modules of different shapes for everything from low passenger and sports cars to tall full-size trucks and SUVs.

“With GM struggling to scale-up its next-generation EV offerings, course-correcting and not ending the Bolt’s future—which has achieved a sort of cult-classic status—is a smart step,” said Corey Cantor, senior associate for EVs at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

[…] This year, though, GM noted that first-half sales of Bolt EV and Bolt EUV have been the strongest since the first deliveries of Bolt EVs in December 2016. From January through June alone, Chevrolet delivered 33,659 Bolts—against 38,000 for all of last year. That first-half total compares to 2,316 Lyriqs and a mere 49 Hummer EVs (a vehicle going through its own battery recall).

In other words, the Bolts made up the bulk of GM’s EV sales for the first half of the year during which the Ultium models were going to hit the market. On the call, Barra confirmed the company’s goal of 50,000 EVs built (not sold) in the first half, plus a further 100,000 from July to December.

JV notes that “nearly 70 percent of buyers who are trading in a vehicle for [a] Bolt are trading in a non-GM product,” which for any automaker is huge. That, and the sales figures you see above, are not things you should just give up. This is actually an incredibly smart move by GM and what it should’ve done in the first place.

The next great frontier for EVs is affordability. I hope more brands step up to meet it.

The Detroit Auto Show Will Be Very Detroit-y

President Biden Tours Broad Portfolio Of Evs At Detroit Auto Show
Photo: Chevrolet

Around that same time Jaguar was picking a fight with BMW, the Detroit Auto Show was our biggest news (and traffic) event of the year at The Old Lighting Site. We put on our best skinny ties, ran around like crazy for days trying to get scoops and exclusive stories, and saw cars from all over the world—including, sometimes, China, which nobody took seriously.

How things change. From a news and new-car perspective, auto shows have been on the decline for years and the pandemic accelerated that trend. But they’re still very important for customers in different regions, especially now that car supplies are returning to normal. Here’s The Detroit News on what’s coming to the hometown show in six weeks:

Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV confirmed this week they will each unveil new vehicles for a total of six reveals during the show’s Media and Technology Days Sept. 13-14 — to be followed by public viewing days through Sept. 24.

[…] As a result, Detroit brands are key to the show as it becomes more regional in content. Ford’s reveal of the seventh-generation Mustang at last year’s show, for example, was a highlight as a “Stampede” of some 1,000 Mustangs drove in from Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn to Hart Plaza.

German brands (like BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche) and Japanese automakers (Honda, Subaru, Mazda) have quit the show to find other venues to sell their wares in a state where buyers are heavily biased toward the Detroit Three both for employment reasons and for financial incentives to buy a car (think friend and family discounts).

Whether The Autopian will have a presence at the show isn’t up to me these days (and no, I do not especially miss planning such things—that’s David’s problem now.) But if we do, we’ll keep you posted and maybe we can hang out in a parking lot somewhere. At least we won’t all freeze our asses off like we used to in January.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Porsche 911 Will Die Standing, Not On Its Knees: Report

010 911 Gruen Profil

What happens to motoring icons when automakers pledge to go all-electric? That’s a tough question for brands like Ferrari or Porsche, ones much more established than, say, Jaguar. But even as the Volkswagen Group commits to its troubled all-EV pivot, Reuters quotes an e-fuels exec as saying the 911 will be the “sole survivor” of its internal combustion models:

Porsche has a plan to gradually electrify its car lineup so that electric vehicles make up 80% of sales by 2030, and it aims to make its iconic 911 the only internal-combustion engine model left standing, a top executive said.

The German luxury automaker’s plans have been closely watched, including by environmentalists, because of its investment in e-fuels and push for the EU to allow sales of such vehicles after 2035.

The automaker will electrify its compact SUV Macan, followed by the 718 sports car and then the best-selling Cayenne, Porsche e-fuels team leader Karl Dums said. The 911, accounting for 13% of sales in 2022, is the exception.

“Our strategy in the first place is switching to electric mobility and … we will produce the 911 as long as possible with a combustion engine,” Dums said.

Interesting. A hybrid 911 has been in the works for a while too, and that will surely help with emissions. But as EV-optimistic as I am, it’s one of those cars that feels like it’d be hard to make electric and capture the same magic. I tend to be of the opinion that someone driving a low-volume sports car less-than-daily is hardly an environment killer on the level of, say, LA gridlock traffic, but regulations are what they are. But I hope the 911 finds a way to survive somehow. I’m not as hardcore a fan as some are, but I still have a lot of love for it.

Your Turn

What should Porsche do with the 911? Go hybrid? Swallow their pride and do something with a simulated manual and fake engine noises? Bet the farm on e-fuels or liquid hydrogen? Keep making gasoline flat-sixes and just hope the EU doesn’t notice? Let’s hear some ideas, folks!

Popular Stories

ADVERTISEMENT

 

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
108 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott
Scott
11 months ago

All this talk about uncancelling the Bolt seems to overlook the reality that this is a recent decision by GM, so there’s a lot of development work (and time required) to make it happen, whether they try to adapt the current Bolt platform to Ultium batteries or kludge together something new at that price point as a ‘replacement.’

I WANT a $25Kish MSRP EV and a Bolt replacement with newer tech near that price point will be compelling, at least until if and when Elon actually makes a $24K Model 2 available, courtesy of a Tesla India gigafactory that doesn’t exist yet.

If GM manages to squeeze the Ultium packs into the current platform, I do hope they’ll take the opportunity to improve the looks just a bit. The regular Bolt, though admirable in many ways, also looks too hatchbacky for the current market, where everyone likes to at least pretend they’re driving an SUV. And maybe they’ll get rid of all that shiny ‘piano black’ plastic inside… along with the GM plastics, it just screams ‘cheap.’

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
11 months ago
  1. You sound hangry, do you need a snickers?
  2. Agree with you about Jag trying to move upmarket, but idk what you want them to do. They can’t compete with ze germanz.
  3. re: 911 ramblings; I own a 77, so I guess I’m allowed to comment. There was a time when the 996 came out, and all the aircooled guys hated them. I don’t hate any of them, but I think they’ve grown too much and gotten too big. I parked next to a 2017 a few years ago and was just SHOCKED by how huge it was compared to my 77. When they try to keep making the 911 perform better and better, it means bigger everything, and imho that’s the wrong move. They should stop making the 911 and just make the Caymen with a 6 cylinder, and call that the 911. That would be a LOT closer to what the aircooled cars were all about. New 911 owners just don’t get it, imho. You aren’t allowed to comment unless you own an aircooled version, sorry man.
Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
11 months ago

I mean the numbers can’t be great for most Jaguar dealers. They’re usually Jaguar/Land Rover dealers and neither of those brands are exactly lighting the world on fire right now.

I have a Bentley/Aston Martin and a Ferrari/Lambo dealer closer to me than a Jaguar dealer, although this metro area still has 5 Jaguar shops from what I can tell.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
11 months ago

Porsche crate engines for EVERYBODY!!!

Ron888
Ron888
11 months ago

Random thought: will a 911 EV keep the rearward weight bias?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

I don’t know how rear biased a 911 actually is, but probably not.

Ron888
Ron888
11 months ago

I’m far from convinced GM can make a profitable Bolt. I wish them the best!

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
11 months ago

McGovern also said ““That is what put Jaguar in the situation it is in today, which is with no equity whatsoever.”

Rrrrrrrright… a company that can sell remade XK-SSs and E-Types for hundreds of thousands of pounds each has no brand equity; says the man who handed Land Rover’s brand equity to Ineos on a plate.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
11 months ago

Just me saying, I think that Porsche is currently deeply involved in developing a totally electric 911 to be released when the market is ready. Porsche being Porsche would never say that an e-911 was comporable to the last best gas 911 unless it was very sure most agree that it is.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
11 months ago

That’s a tough question for brands like Ferrari or Porsche, ones much more established than, say, Jaguar.

Jaguar 1922
Ferrari 1929
Porsche 1931

Just saying a thing here, not being pedantic or accurate or nuffin like that.

Anders
Anders
11 months ago

Very curious what the “British magic it felt it had in the 1990s” was. Jaguar has been a car and brand for the tiny nostalgic tweed-enthusiast target audience for as long as I can remember, surely they can’t mean the dire S-type?

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
11 months ago

Keep making gasoline flat-sixes and just hope the EU doesn’t notice?

The trick here would be to use older bodystyles. Dealerships can add a special “factory certified” room where new-off-the-line 911s styled like 996s are sold on the QT.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

If you’re going to do this, at least use 993s, not 996s…..

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
11 months ago

I have a feeling e-fuels will be too niche (read: expensive) to sustain ongoing production of ICE vehicles. I can imagine it getting to the point where, for a huge price, you use them to keep classics in your collection running a few times a year, but that doesn’t line up with actually building new cars to sell.

I wouldn’t mind being wrong on that, I’m just dubious.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

There will be a cap on costs in some sense because ethanol can be made at home and it’s not *that* difficult to modify most vehicles to run on it.

The sale of new ICEs may be banned, the registration of existing ones may even be banned, but there’s not really going to be a way to actually stop people from driving them if they’re motivated.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Good point, although I’m not sure people are going to want to run 964s on ethanol, assuming the e-fuels perform (almost) identically to dino juice. Which is the ideal, although I’m not sure how feasible. More likely they’ll get 95% of the way there, but the last 5% would be prohibitive, either technologically or economically.

Point being, you’re absolutely right that people will hack their way into keeping their cars running, but IMO there will be a market for something less home-brewed for cars with 6-figure values.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

I agree.

When the time comes though, I’ll have zero hesitation modifying the Viper to run on alcohol if that’s what it takes to keep it on the road.

SuperNova
SuperNova
11 months ago

I can’t wait to see the 2031 Porsche with all it’s battery weight hanging off the ass end of their super light performance car…don’t worry it will eventually work by 2060 and nobody will want to change the design.

108
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x