Day Of Reckoning Near For JLR?

It’s make or break, especially for Jaguar

The EV era has shaken up the car industry all over the globe. While the Land Rover SUV range over at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is secure, with exciting plans for the Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender lines, things have been less clear for Jaguar. People’s love for SUVs, especially in the USA, is good news for Land Rover, but Jaguar has been treading on its sibling’s toes with its own crossover SUV offerings such as the E-Pace and F-Pace, cannibalizing sales. Has Jaguar painted itself into a corner and does it have a future as a part of JLR?

Jaguar Land Rover has had to review both brands as part of its ‘Reimagine’ strategy under new boss Thierry Bolloré. However, the fact remains that the dramatic last-minute cancelation of the new Jaguar XJ marks a turning point for the brand. With all the development work completed and road testing already underway, the cancellation of such an important project not only means millions lost on developing a stillborn car but less place for Jaguar to maneuver as a brand. And trying to make a business case for a brand that sold 100,000 cars in 2020 will be tough.

It’s An SUV-Eats-SUV World Out There

Land Rover has been faring better and sold 324,000 vehicles in 2020 because the world wants crossovers and SUVs. These vehicles best normal cars in how much they can do; they are the Swiss Army knives of cars with all the cargo space, seating configurations, and family-friendly features that buyers demand today. They’re loved for their ground clearance and driving height too, allowing owners to take them off the beaten track.

Modern SUVs’ engine choices offer the type of horsepower and performance figures that only sedans did 20 years ago, but with far more interior volume and a bigger back seat for the same external size. Buyers have been voting with their wallets and sales have been booming. The only downside to all that size and weight is fuel economy, but the EV SUV is waiting in the wings to save the day on that score.

The Future For Jaguar

Jaguar has many mountains to climb on the road to becoming a sustainable business and these are the most notable obstacles it will have to overcome:

  • It rates poorly in reliability surveys
  • It must reinvent itself as a sustainable brand without stealing sales from Land Rover
  • The ‘Reimagine’ strategy sees it having to become an all-electric brand by 2025
  • It needs sales volumes to survive, lest it risks falling victim to a takeover
  • Dumping the XE, XF, and canceled XJ leaves it with gaping holes in the product lineup

The Future For Land Rover

Land Rover already builds the type of car everybody wants; now it just needs to electrify its range, so this is what the future looks like for the three Land Rover ‘pillars’:

  • Pillar 1: Range Rover. The next-generation Ranger Rover is due in 2021 and JLR Chief Creative Officer Gerry McGovern has said that it will be unmistakably Range Rover, yet a thoroughly modern car in terms of design. Range Rover has proven that the brand is resilient with the success of the Evoque and Velar products.
  • Pillar 2: Defender. The new Defender is a massive success story and now fulfills some of the roles that the Discovery had to cover in the past. It has become almost a brand in itself and the range is expanding. Besides the Defender 90 and 110, a smaller Defender 80 is on the cards in 2022 to take the fight not only to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco, but also to the BMW X1, Volvo XC40, and Audi Q3.
  • Pillar 3: Discovery. Where does that leave Discovery? With the Discovery Sport already doing well as the cheapest base model Land Rover and the normal Discovery freed from having to fill dual roles, McGovern has said that this pillar is set to be developed in the future to create fresh and different new products. What these are going to be, we are yet to see.

Conclusion – Do Or Die

With a view to slashing the lineup and finding buyers to boost volumes without treading on Land Rover’s toes, Jaguar has the most difficult job and might still fail as a brand if things don’t go according to plan. With Land Rover launching its first all-electric car in 2024 and all models featuring some kind of electrification by 2030, it should sustain the group’s sales and satisfy the market’s thirst for SUVs.

Considering JLR’s low sales volumes, it might have to partner with other automakers to make this future happen. Exciting times lie ahead, but JLR will be stepping into the future with a clear understanding of how critical the following few years will be for its survival. The future isn’t waiting for anybody and we’ll have to see if ‘Reimagine’ will be able to secure JLR’s future.

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