So large was the recent explosion of news detonated by Jaguar Land Rover that the boom is still resonating. While lots was revealed in Thierry Bolloré’s first public outing as JLR CEO, here are some of the questions that we feel still need answers.
Why cancel the new Jaguar XJ, nigh-on complete at an estimated investment cost of at least £300 million, when it was set to be exactly the type of car that Jaguar will sell from 2025? Bolloré claimed “the XJ replacement was not fitting with that new positioning,” which is odd, given that it looked like the perfect car for leading the firm to where it wants to go.
Why does Bolloré feel the need to put Jaguar and Land Rover cars onto individual platforms? He claimed that this is to give each brand distinct characteristics, but other car makers are happy achieving that using the same basic architecture. What makes this potentially hugely expensive separation necessary? Already rumours suggest it might be one way of disentangling the brands in case the opportunity to sell Jaguar – perhaps to an emergent Chinese company – comes up.
Does Jaguar even have the time or finances to develop its own platform by 2025? As Bolloré hinted, the work can’t even begin until JLR design chief Gerry McGovern and the Jaguar team led by Julian Thomson have set the proportions they want the entire future line-up to work to. That’s a lot to do in just five years. Could it be that a joint venture with another car maker is on the cards or that a platform could be bought from a third-party supplier, such as Magna Steyr?
What kind of new cars will Jaguar make? Bolloré suggested Land Rover will be JLR’s SUV brand (and the rumours of a Jaguar J-Pace seven-seater have already been culled as a result), while saloon and estate sales are rapidly diminishing. So where is left for this new-look Jaguar to turn?
Does Jaguar have the marketing prowess and resources to transition from a premium brand to a luxury brand, as has been targeted? It’s all very well hinting at Aston Martin- and Bentleyesque qualities and price points, but surely that’s a stretch of reality? Maybe the mid-ground – exemplified perhaps by Maserati – is more realistic, albeit low on successful case studies to draw inspiration from. Why can Jaguar succeed in this space when others haven’t?
Can Jaguar actually make it to 2025? Last year’s sales were dire: 37% down year on year to 102,494 (BMW sold more 3 Series alone). Now retailers are presumably left to shift updated but ageing products that their creators have declared not fit for purpose from 2025. That’s four to five years of hard graft for them, followed by the prospect of reinvesting (again) in a completely fresh start. It’s a huge ask to persuade them to buy into that vision, given the historically low returns.