Jaguar’s New XE – Audi Perhaps Most Vulnerable To Baby Jag.
After months of titillation, Jaguar finally unveiled its new small XE saloon, and analysts and investors have been honing their sales forecasts.
Observers had expected the body-work of the new XE to at least be eye-catching for it to be able to divert attention from the competition, but in the event “understated” and “elegant” were the most common descriptions.
According to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisberg-Essen, the XE should reach sales of 100,000 in its first full year of 2016 rising to 200,000 by 2020 or shortly after.
Jaguar sold a total of about 75,000 vehicles in 2013.
Nomura Global Markets Research is a bit less optimistic than CAR, seeing sales of 60,000 in 2016, rising to more than 100,000, but it didn’t say when. Sales start in 2015 and reach the U.S. by 2016.
The entry-level luxury saloon segment, currently dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C class and Audi A4 rose six per cent in 2013 to 1.6 million vehicles. Nomura said the new XE could lead to a big increase in volumes for Jaguar by 2016, despite its weaker brand compared with Land Rover, and bearing in mind that the German competitors see it as very important too. BMW, Mercedes and Audi sales in this sector account for between 20 and 35 per cent of their sales, Nomura said.
Analysts reckoned the XE had to be successful if the JLR project was to be successful in the long run.
According to CAR, JLR was the most successful automotive company in the past four years. Last year it sold 425,000 cars around the world, and by the end of 2014 will have increased sales by 214 per cent since 2010. JLR earned an 11 per cent return on sales last year, making it more profitable than Daimler’s Mercedes and on a par with BMW and Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, said CAR.
CAR’s Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said the new XE will be very competitive with BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Audi in particular may feel the brunt of the XE’s arrival.
“It is designed by ex-BMW engineering people who know the way to design sporty cars very well, with their focus on quality, drivability and sportiness which brings together an interesting package,” Dudenhoeffer said.
“Jaguar doesn’t need to conquer all its sales from the Germans, but 20 to 25 per cent will come from German car makers and the rest from market growth. If you are looking for vulnerability amongst the Germans, Audi is now showing weakness because it is falling behind with technology. There’s nothing new in materials like carbon fibre; nothing new as regards e-mobility and innovation. Just conventional cars with high quality, but that’s it. We are seeing a strong (product) performance at Mercedes, that will continue with successful new design and technology in the car. BMW has to find a way to help them renew their design a little bit, because that has become a little conservative,” Dudenhoeffer said.
Dudenhoeffer expects JLR sales to reach 800,000 by 2020. Jaguar will provide between 300,000 and 350,000 a year by then
Jaguar unveiled a 340 hp supercharged V6 engine version of the XE. The light-weight, aluminium body will help save fuel on the lesser powered four cylinder gasoline and diesel engines specially developed for the XE when they are unveiled later.
Jaguar will be the first JLR vehicle to use the Ingenium four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, the first motors to be designed and built in-house since Tata bought the company from Ford Motor Co in 2008. Previously, most JLR engines came from Ford.