LONDON - Jaguar plans to use its XKR sports car to lead its assault into the luxury market in Europe, especially Germany.
Jaguar's goal is to quadruple worldwide sales to 200,000 units by 2002, mainly by reaching younger customers and more women with its new, smaller cars.
The Jaguar S-Type, aimed at the BMW 5 series, will be introduced at the Birmingham auto show in October. The S-Type,
code-named X200, shares a platform with the 2000 Lincoln LS series. The X400, aimed at the BMW 3 series, will arrive by 2002.
In Germany, Europe's largest luxury market, Jaguar wants to trade its image as a quirky, sober alternative for a new image as a serious luxury sports car.
The company's biggest-ever European mail campaign will reach 800,000 owners of luxury and near-luxury cars. It began in the United Kingdom last month and will move to the Continent this month.
The campaign will use Jaguar's new supercharged XKR sports car as a halo. The car goes on sale this summer. Campaign literature will emphasize the car's power, technical quality and reliability.
Jaguar Chairman Nick Scheele said the XKR's qualities would aid Jaguar against Mercedes-Benz and BMW, particularly in Germany.
'Germany is critical; it's where our biggest competitors are,' said Scheele. 'But it's a hard market to crack.' Mercedes, BMW and Audi dominate the German luxury market. Toyota's Lexus has not penetrated that country.
Women buy only 10 percent of Jaguars sold in Europe, compared with 40 percent in the United States, Jaguar's largest market. A Jaguar 'is much more of a fashion statement in the U.S.A.,' said Roger Putnam, Jaguar director of sales and marketing.