Has Jaguar been wasting its time for the past 17 years, with the endless honing of its saloon cars into best-in-class driving machines?
If you look at the most recent retail sales figures for the company, you could well argue exactly that. According to Tata’s own figures, in the 10 months between April last year and January this year, the company sold 132,825 cars.
That’s up a massive 83% on the same period year on year. The Jaguar XE put on a healthy 27% sales increase and the Jaguar XF a useful 10% increase, but the main reason Jaguar is doing well is due to the Jaguar F-Pace.
Over the 10 months it was Jaguar’s biggest-selling model by a significant amount, with 51,853 examples finding a home. And if the F-Pace’s sales this January are anything to go by, the new model could settle down to an annual production of around 70,000 units.
Even now the F-Pace is Jaguar’s best seller. Over our 10-month window, the XE compact saloon clocked sales of 34,627 — a very healthy jump over the previous period.
But the full-year total for the XE will probably be just under 43,000 units. By contrast, BMW sold nearly 142,000 3 Series models last year in Europe alone, pus another 100,000 or so in both China and the US.
The XF is in rather worse shape. Over the same 10 months just 28,727 were sold, which adds up to a likely global total of 35,000 units over 12 months. But Mercedes sold more than 210,000 E-Class saloons and estates globally in 2016.
The XJ, meanwhile, looks like it will come in under 10,000 sales for the 12 months to April this year.
When the E-Pace is launched — and we’d guess it will be well-priced — Jaguar will quickly become an SUVmajority car maker. Sure, the same thing has happened to Porsche and Volvo. But Jaguar saloons seem destined to remain very small sales fry.
So with the E-Pace and F-Pace doing well but Jaguar’s three road cars adding up to well under 100,000 units per year, what happens next?
The electric I-Pace will further change Jaguar’s image, but a major rationalisation of the brand’s range of saloon cars cars is needed, with perhaps just two models in a future range – or maybe even just one.
But how do you add conventional models to Jaguar’s line-up? A big, Range Rover-size J-Pace seems inevitable.