LONDON - Jaguar plans to use its XKR sports car to lead its assault into the luxury market in Europe, especially Germany.
Jaguar's goal is to quadruple worldwide sales to 200,000 units by 2002, primarily by reaching younger customers and more women with its new, smaller cars.
The Jaguar S-Type, aimed at the BMW 5 series, will be introduced at the Birmingham auto show in October. The X400, aimed at the 3 series, will arrive by 2002.
To grow, Jaguar must change. In Germany, Europe's largest luxury market, Jaguar wants to exchange its current image as a quirky, sober alternative for an image as a serious luxury sports car.
The company's biggest ever pan-European mail campaign will reach 800,000 owners of luxury and near-luxury cars. It began in the UK last week and will move to the continent in May. In July, Jaguar will launch the campaign in Japan.
The campaign will use Jaguar's new supercharged XKR sports car as a halo. The car goes on sale this summer. Campaign literature will emphasize the car's power, technical quality and reliability.
Jaguar Chairman Nick Scheele said the XKR's qualities would aid Jaguar against Mercedes-Benz and BMW, particularly in Germany.
'Germany is critical, it's where our biggest competitors are,' said Scheele. 'But it's a hard market to crack.'
Mercedes, BMW and Audi dominate the German luxury market. Even Toyota's Lexus has not been able to penetrate that country.
'The task for Jaguar is enormous,' said industry analyst Peter Schmidt, because Jaguar does not have a reputation for good quality.
Schmidt, with Automotive Industry Data, said the luxury market is saturated, but he gives Jaguar a better chance than Lexus.
Women buy only 10 percent of Jaguars sold in Europe, compared with 40 percent in the USA, Jaguar's largest market. A Jaguar 'is much more of a fashion statement in the USA,' said Roger Putnam, Jaguar director of sales and marketing.