EVORA, Portugal - Jaguar wants to win new customers for the XJ by showcasing the car's green credentials.
"We will be telling [potential customers] about our environmental friendliness in the luxury segment," said Stephen Perrin, Jaguar's global marketing director, at the presentation of the XJ's new 2.7-liter V-6 diesel here.
Because of its all-aluminum body structure the XJ is hundreds of kilograms lighter than rivals in the upper-premium segment.
With less weight to move, the diesel-powered XJ uses 8.1 liters per 100km and produces 214 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That ranks it second in both categories to the Mercedes-Benz S class (see box).
Sales boost expected
But the British carmaker isn't adding the common-rail turbo diesel in western Europe just to help the environment.
"The XJ diesel is expected to add 50 percent incremental sales," Perrin said.
Slow to become part of Europe's diesel boom, Jaguar is the only competitive carmaker in the upper-premium segment without a diesel. That has had a devastating impact on the XJ's sales.
Last year, the XJ's volume in western Europe fell 28.8 percent to 5,028 units. Things have worsened in 2005 as Volkswagen's Phaeton has outsold the XJ 1,744 units to 1,523 in the first five months of the year.
"That is why it is important to have a diesel," Perrin said about slipping behind the Phaeton, which is considered a sales flop. "We now have a full-fledged diesel range, which is essential in Europe."
XJ models with the 204hp diesel go on sale in Europe in October. The British carmaker's higher volume models, the X-Type and the S-Type, already offer diesel derivatives.
The S-Type and the XJ have the same diesel, while the X-Type offers a 2.0-liter common-rail turbodiesel.
Sales of the S-Type also were hurt by Europe's 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 model's first gasoline derivatives - and now account for two-thirds of the model's European sales. Overall western European sales of the S-Type are up 10.6 percent to 5,979 units in the first five months compared with the year-ago period.
Perrin said that if such a huge change could happen to the S-Type, diesel sales could soon account for up to 80 percent of Jaguar's total European volume.
The 2.7-liter diesel is the result of a diesel partnership between PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Jaguar's parent Ford.
The new XJ diesel also will offer a standard diesel particulate filter. The company isn't worried about the current shortage of the emissions-reducing device. Said Perrin: "We have our allocations reserved."