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Things Don’t Look Great For Jaguar These Days

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A very merry Friday to you all, Autopians. Thank you for your continued support. “Support” is something the Jaguar brand could use a lot more of these days, so that’s how we’re kicking off today’s morning news roundup. Also on tap today: We’re talking about Ford’s big EV truck plans, Tesla’s apex predator status in China, and a crazy story that might’ve changed how we view AI in cars. Let’s get it done.

I’m Telling You Right Now That This Doesn’t Seem Great

009 Jag F Type 24my Coupe Exterior Side 049 111022
Photo credit: Jaguar

Man, Jaguar. What on earth happened there? It feels like just yesterday (it was actually the middle of the last decade now) when the British luxury icon seemed to be mounting a major comeback with an onslaught of new models like the XE and XF sedans, F-Pace crossover and the delightful F-Type sports car. Hell, it was even an early pioneer in the modern EV space with the I-Pace, which for a minute was one of the only cars that could really handle itself against Tesla. [Editor’s Note: Could it, though? -DT]. 

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

But that onslaught of new products we saw starting about eight years ago never really translated to sales, certainly not on the BMW- and Mercedes-fighting level Jaguar wanted. Now things look kinda bleak for the brand. It’s still one-half of the Jaguar Land Rover conglomerate owned by India’s Tata, but Land Rover is by far the one paying the bills and posting the sales figures. The market shift toward SUVs (especially luxury ones) really benefitted the latter brand over the former.

Now Jaguar is asking many of its dealers to cash out. This doesn’t feel great. Here’s Automotive News with the details:

Jaguar Land Rover has started the process of reducing Jaguar stores by offering dealers extra allocations of hot-selling Land Rover nameplates, such as the redesigned Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender, if they give up their Jaguar franchises. It’s unclear how many dealers have already accepted the offer, and it could be as many as 40, said one dealer who has been following the situation but asked to not be identified.

According to the Automotive News Research & Data Center, Jaguar Land Rover started 2023 with 395 U.S. dealerships, the vast majority of which carry both brands in a dual showroom, with Jaguar on one side and Land Rover on the other.

When the current five-vehicle Jaguar lineup rides into the sunset in roughly a year and a half, the brand’s dealership footprint could look more like that of ultraluxury brands it aspires to compete against such as Aston Martin and Bentley. Those brands each have fewer than 50 U.S. dealerships, with many clustered in major markets such as Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

You actually have to feel bad for the dealers, here. Many of them invested a lot of money to build combined JLR stores anticipating Jaguar could become a volume luxury brand, but got stuck with what became an aging lineup that’s selling slowly. Now, they’ll have to deal with half-empty showrooms and not much to put there. They will still be able to repair Jaguar cars—insert the British car joke of your choosing here—but the franchise appears to be going nowhere.
That’s the other part of this problem. Jaguar swears a big change in direction is coming, but it’s been remarkably quiet on any sort of details. They claim it’ll be all-electric, much more expensive, much more premium, and with a lineup of just three cars—probably more like Aston Martin or Bentley than BMW. They should start around $120,000, the story says. So let’s recap where Jaguar’s at these days:
  • Pivoting its lineup to go way more upmarket
  • Transitioning to EVs, which are expensive to build and sell
  • Still on an interim CEO after the last one left last year
  • Part of the British auto industry, which has been hammered by Brexit
  • Now asking dealers to cash out entirely
  • Coming off its worst sales year in decades (although the supply chain disruptions were bad for everyone)
I don’t want to officially presume that whatever’s next for Jaguar could be it, before it wraps up for good or just sells the brand to another automaker (possibly a Chinese one to focus on that market.) But let’s be real, none of this feels positive for the British brand. It needs to unveil a real reset plan with some hype around it, and soon, or it’s going to seem like an early casualty of what’s coming next.

Ford’s Got Big Electric Truck Plans

F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center
Photo credit Ford

Speaking of EVs, we all know Ford is taking a huge bath there. But this is all par for the course. Ford separated its conventional car and EV operations into two separate business units, and one’s essentially paying for the other. It, like other automakers, intends to lose money while it ramps up R&D, engineering and production to support EVs.


It has big plans for trucks, specifically, which makes sense because this is Ford we’re talking about. And not even the Lightning; the next F-150 and its electric variants, to be made at a kind of gigafactory in Tennesse. Here’s The Detroit News on these plans:

“Trust the Truck.”

That’s the saying behind the code name of the next-generation F-Series truck Ford Motor Co. will build at its under-construction, $5.6 billion mega-campus in West Tennessee. The Dearborn automaker on Friday offered its first teaser on the product that will be built at BlueOval City, revealing that it is codenamed ‘Project T3.’

The teaser came ahead of an event executives will host on the campus later Friday morning, where they will highlight construction progress ahead of the operation’s 2025 opening and a workforce development initiative aimed at preparing some 6,000 people to take on jobs there. The initiative encompasses K-12 STEM programs, postsecondary education partnerships and technical training.

Ford has yet to offer any other details about the truck that will be assembled there. It will be a follow-up to the automaker’s inaugural battery-electric pickup, the F-150 Lightning, production of which launched last spring at the historic Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn. The automaker is working to ramp up production of the Lightning.

Ford is working to fix its quality and reliability issues, including with the Lightning, which is otherwise a very impressive vehicle. But it’s kind of a first draft of the mega-EV truck scale Ford is really planning long-term.

If You Are A Chinese EV Upstart, Tesla Is Coming To Quietly Murder You In Your Sleep

0x0 Model3 01
Photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla didn’t just cut prices in America earlier this year. It also did so in China, though for various cultural reasons, this didn’t go over very well. But it was remarkably effective in forcing EV competitors there to have to slash their prices too, putting nearly all of them (save for BYD, another giant) at a major disadvantage. This is what you can do when you have Tesla’s EV production scale. It even hammered Western legacy brands in that country too.

Here’s Bloomberg on the effect of these cuts:

The moves left rivals with little option but to follow suit. Among them were local EV upstarts such as Xpeng Inc. and Nio Inc. as well as leading international brands like Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz Group, which offered discounts of up to 70,000 yuan ($10,000). Ford Motor Co.’s Mach-E electric crossover is down to a starting price of 209,900 yuan, about a third cheaper than in the U.S.

“Tesla created havoc for rest of the market,” said Jochen Siebert, managing director of JSC Automotive, a consultancy with offices in Shanghai and Stuttgart.

At least 30 more carmakers have cut prices, according to calculations by Bloomberg News and local media.

[…] With the increasing adoption of EVs, China’s auto market is going through a “a very profound reshuffle,” Nio Chief Financial Officer Steven Feng told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

“We need to go through this price war at the beginning of the year, and then we expect the industry to go through some profound fundamental consolidation,” he said. “It’s almost consensus that China now has too many automakers.”

There’s a kind of fallacy among the hardcore Tesla stans that posts it could become the Apple of cars, something with 50%+ market share of cars globally. I think that’s insane to think about. The truth is that Tesla’s scale, and profit margins, do put it at a huge advantage over other EV manufacturers right now, especially in China. And China is also full of smaller EV brands you’ve probably never heard of. As in America, it stands to reason that not all of them will make it.

Elon Musk Almost Bought ChatGPT (???)

Elon Musk


Finally, here’s some Elon Musk-related news that I do feel is interesting enough to warrant a mention here. News startup Semafor today reports that Musk actually tried to buy OpenAI—the generative AI text startup that’s either bullshit or The Next Big Thing That Will Change Everything®—way back in early 2018. That’s way before its ChatGPT product started making the waves it is now.

But in early 2018, Musk told Sam Altman, another OpenAI founder, that he believed the venture had fallen fatally behind Google, people familiar with the matter said.

And Musk proposed a possible solution: He would take control of OpenAI and run it himself.

Altman and OpenAI’s other founders rejected Musk’s proposal. Musk, in turn, walked away from the company — and reneged on a massive planned donation. The fallout from that conflict, culminating in the announcement of Musk’s departure on Feb 20, 2018, would shape the industry that’s changing the world, and the company at the heart of it.

This led to a war between Musk and Altman (Musk loves a good beef) that’s going on today. But the timing is quite strange, as the story notes; Tesla was really struggling with production hell issues in 2018 and Altman and OpenAI were nobodies in Silicon Valley. Things went the way they went and now Musk now aims to launch his own AI startup.

Why mention this here? Because autonomous car setbacks aside, AI is poised to play a big role in the future of cars. The news reports around this were way overblown, but General Motors has posited ways generative AI could be used in-car to assist drivers in the not-so-distant future.

One imagines a different timeline where a version of ChatGPT (or something similar) ends up in Tesla’s cars, is what I’m saying. Who knows if there would’ve been overlap between two Musk companies, but given the scale of his ambitions and how he’s assigned Tesla engineers to fix stuff at Twitter, it’s plausible. Either way, expect more news about AI in cars in the coming years, even if it takes a while to get there.

Your Turn

On a vacation to the English countryside, you come upon an ancient sword buried in a stone during a hike in an idyllic forest. You pull the sword from the stone; suddenly, the wizard Merlin appears and tells you that you are the first person in centuries to accomplish this feat.


And since you can’t be made King or Queen of England because those people are absolutely insufferable, you have instead been made CEO of Jaguar Land Rover. Your first job is to fix the Jaguar brand.

Brave knight foretold in legend, bearer of the mighty Excalibur, defender of the crown and powerful green saloons: What do you do to fix the mess at Jag?

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1 year ago

Hey Patrick, I enjoyed your informative article about consumer reaction to Tesla’s price drops in China at The Verge. 🙂

1 year ago

Yes. I know i’m late to the party here. But Jag being in my heart, I had to comment.

I’d make Jaguar the performance brand of JLR. Keep LR as rugged offroad, and RR as ultra luxe. Jag would become a sports focused brand, with only a few models. Obviously with the UK’s ICE ban impending, they have to stay on the EV track.

1. Lightweight EV sports car. i.e. the Lotus EV that Louts isn’t building. It would be in a league of its own.

2. Updated i-Pace. Needs more range, and faster charging. Update the inside and out. Premium materials. Market strongly as a sports SUV.

3. Smaller sporty SUV. lower cost than 1&2. An EV e-Pace essentially.

That is all. They need no other models.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

First thing’s first: Bring back the Jaaaaaag ‘Ring taxi.

I remember them flexing on all the other EVs there that could just do one flying lap before needing a charge by going out for five or so at a time in the I-Pace. Also, getting flung around in that big honkin’ XJR was rad. Look, as benevolent dictator of Jaaaaaag, I will have my pet causes and “Nürburgring? Hell yeah, Nürburgring.” is one of them.

IDK what else I’d do—probably focus on keeping a good sports car around (the last manual F-Type was a joy, and honestly, something tossable and manual would go a long way in setting Jag apart from everyone else) and slowly chip away at refreshing the more mass-market fare (I-Pace EV, F-Pace SUV). Make sure each model has a standout quality so you could honestly answer “why would I buy this instead of a Porsche?” Oh, and improve quality come hell or high water. No one wants to spend a ton of time at the dealership on recalls.

1 year ago

Honestly i dont think i want to run JLR.Between brexit,reputation for unreliability,small market share and massive german competition i dont think they can survive.
Turning to all EVs as suggested by some doesnt impress me.Everyone and their dog is selling upper mid priced EVs now and how many are actually making money??

And selling to the Chinese? I see one or two issues there.
Do Chinese companies still want to do that?Their own brands will soon be genuinely competitive.I think the era of them buying brand names is closing soon.
Also JLR is owned by an Indian,so the Chinese will positively delight in watching JLR struggle.They wont be helping,not a chance

1 year ago

The only thing that will save Jag is styling. The best looking, most outstanding vehicle in whatever class they choose to compete in. Bland will kill Jag.

Captain Woof
Captain Woof
1 year ago

I work at Jaguar Land Rover’s HQ in Gaydon and although I of course cannot say much, stuff is definitely happening at Jaguar. I’ve even been inside their ‘top secret’ design lab and seen some exciting stuff! Perhaps I’m biased, but it’s a fun place to work!

Marcus Fnord
Marcus Fnord
1 year ago
Reply to  Captain Woof

Wish you guys well. I love jags and and am sad that they aren’t doing as well as hoped.

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 year ago

“What the F-Type?!?!”

{slides the sword back into the rock and quickly walks away}

I pick my battles.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Der Foo

F-Type is bar tender lingo for a certain type of patron.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 year ago

The problems with Jaguar and the British automotive industry is multi-fold. For one thing they have never really figured out quality control. Their brands are all nearly at the bottom of reliability charts. This has caused the brands to be tarnished with that reputation. Sure- German cars are also sort of a pain in the ass. But BMW has a far better track record so why blow tons of money on a vehicle that is well known to have problems? Secondly- Brexit. Above all, Brexit is probably the number one reason why whatever was left of the British manufacturing sector finally got majorly hosed. Its now simply too much of a headache to build things there when it costs so much more and is so much hassle.

1 year ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Brexit has been a clusterfuck from start to finish. Honda have pulled out of their factory in the UK. The next EV Mini is supposedly going to be built in the EU. Nissan have only stayed due to a huge bribe from the government. The UK car industry relied entirely on frictionless trade with the rest of Europe. A modern car is a truly international collaboration with parts from thousands of suppliers from tens of countries. When your production is fucked up because your truck full of dash clusters is sat in a queue at Calais for 5 days, you’re going to think twice about choosing your British factory over an EU one.


1 year ago

How to save Jag? It’s not much, but take the X351 XJ’s interior (or at least something to that standard) and put it in the F-Pace. Probably the I-Pace too, and make it your mission to mention how mediocre Tesla interiors at every possible chance.

Decoupling from Land Rover would probably help as well, so at least anyone coming in for a crossover doesn’t make an immediate beeline for something built to tame the wilds of Calabasas.

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