Jaguar could launch an additional sub-brand to compete with BMW’s M range and Mercedes’ AMG series of performance models.
Jaguar’s new high-powered brand would sit above its R line of high-powered models.
“We can take a good sports car and develop even higher performance versions of it,” Jaguar CEO Joe Greenwell said. “It’s a good route to go. I look at Porsche and see what an excellent job they have done.”
Jaguar’s R sub-brand first appeared in 1994 on the XKR premium sports car.
R-badged models – characterized by supercharged engines and tuned suspensions – accounted for about 5 percent of Jaguar’s global sales of 119,000 units last year.
Globally more than 40 percent of Jaguar’s XK-series customers choose the R version. For the XJ series, the take rate on R versions was 15 percent last year and just 5 percent for R versions of S-type medium-premium models.
Mercedes-Benz’s performance brand AMG is available on nine of the company’s model ranges and accounted for about 20,000 sales in 2004 – only 1.6 percent of the brand’s 1.2 million sales globally.
“We must not stretch our engineering resources too far, so we’ve decided to concentrate on additional performance models,” Greenwell said, “We now see 120,000 to 150,000 as the realistic target for Jaguar as a brand.”
Until last summer, Jaguar’s global sales target was 200,000.
Greenwell said Jaguar has missed out on sales because it has been too slow to develop derivatives of its main models.
For example, sales of the lower-premium X-type suffered because when it was introduced in 2001 it was only available as a gasoline-powered sedan.
Sales improved when the diesel version arrived in June 2003 and the station wagon was introduced in summer 2004. Globally, Jaguar sold 65,000 X-types last year, the diesel represents 70 percent of those sales and the station wagon represented 25 percent of the total.
Greenwell said a convertible and a high-performance R line had been part of the original X-type product plan, but those models were axed because of the initial slow sales of the X-type sedan.
Sales of the S-type also were hurt by the explosion in diesel demand. Nearly half the new cars sold in Europe last year were powered by a diesel.
S-type diesel versions appeared in 2004 – six years after the first gasoline models – and now account for two-thirds of the model’s European sales.