BRUSSELS - Ford Motor Co. finally will recover some of the $2.5 billion it paid for Jaguar Cars Ltd. in 1989. The payback will start in 18 months when the X200 arrives, said Nick Scheele, Jaguar chairman.
Jaguar hopes the X200, which will compete with the BMW 5 series, will boost annual worldwide sales from 40,000 now to beyond 90,000 in 1999.
Jaguar needed more than the X200 to rescue it, said Scheele. He said the brand name alone kept sales going during the 1980s, but to regain its health, Jaguar had to improve quality, reliability and resale value.
Since 1989, Jaguar has added modern plants and introduced replacements for the XJ sedan and XK8 coupe and convertible.
Scheele said Ford provides money and approves strategy, but leaves other decisions to Jaguar executives.
Buyers no longer choose a Jaguar on emotional grounds alone, Scheele said in an address to the Automotive News Europe Congress. 'Never before could customers defend a Jaguar on rational reasons. They can now.'
What comes after the X200, Scheele would not say. He ruled out a sport-utility. The company had designed one, but could not justify selling a 'rounded box' as a Jaguar.
Scheele said he envisions Jaguar offering a car in the medium segments, but nothing as small as a Mercedes A class.