SEVILLE, Spain -- The replacement version of the Jaguar XK sports car will likely be made of aluminum, according to a source in the company.
David Scholes, program director for Jaguar's aluminum XJ sedan and a proponent of aluminum use within the company, declined to say definitely whether the decision had been made. But he indicated Jaguar is going strongly in that direction.
"Ideally we'd like to have another year to absorb the lessons we've learned on the XJ," he said. "But we probably won't have that luxury."
The XK replacement is due sometime during the second half of 2005.
Mike Beasley, outgoing Jaguar managing director, said the major debate over the use of aluminum at Jaguar would come on the next new model after the XK.
"The area where the jury is really out is the S-type," he said.
Jaguar is part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group and aluminum will likely feature prominently in other luxury vehicles from the division, Scholes said.
Land Rover models such as the Range Rover could one day be made of aluminum, Scholes added. Ford, which also owns Land Rover, is putting the British sport-utility specialist together with Jaguar in one organization within Premier Automotive Group.
Jaguar decided to make the new XJ out of aluminum in order to save weight. The weight savings allowed the company to reintroduce the Jaguar XJ6, powered by a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine - the first six-cylinder installed in Jaguar's flagship car since 1997.
The introduction of the aluminum XJ has been costly. Ford President Nick Scheele told reporters last year Jaguar would lose $500 million (E458 million) for 2002, due to delays in getting the body shop in Castle Bromwich, England, up and running.
But Jaguar believes the benefits will be worth it long term. The new car is up to 200kg lighter than the old version even though it is taller, longer and wider.
Scholes said unknown factors will still play a role in future decisions about aluminum such as the price of the lightweight metal and the aggressiveness of the steel industry in meeting the aluminum challenge.
Metals spring back when stamped, and Beasley said Jaguar had a lot to learn about the behavior of aluminum during stamping.
"None of us had good enough simulations to know how aluminum would perform in the stamping die," Beasley said.
"It's likely big cars will be made of aluminum," he added. But he said that the cost effectiveness of the metal still has to be proven in smaller cars such as Audi's A2.