With annual sales of fewer than 70,000 cars, Jaguar -- despite its name -- is vulnerable prey in the broader premium car jungle.
Exposed to hungry million-selling predators such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi, it is clearly on the endangered species list.
With global premium-car sales squeezed by around one-third, can Jaguar continue to survive? Its a question thats worth asking once again.
Jaguars future seemed assured when Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover from Ford Motor in June last year. But the financial crisis has changed everything. The rules, which applied then, certainly do not apply in 2009.
It was assumed in June that Tata would take care of any routine ups and downs as it waited for Jaguar Land Rovers ambitious five-year product plan to bring results.
Instead, the Indian group has found itself funding a full-blown crisis as well as a costly investment program. Tatas pockets may be deep but they are not limitless, and its an open question how long it can afford to continue.
Many Jaguar competitors, with smaller models in their ranges, have had the luxury of a relatively soft landing. And Jaguar was lucky last year to have had a new model. Capitallizing on the positive residual buyer sentiment for the marque, it raised 2008 sales, while most other brands declined. Can it be lucky again?
Jaguar CEO Mike ODriscoll does have contingency plans for further cost reductions if the marketplace declines even more. But Jaguar clearly cannot save its way to prosperity.
If Jaguar cannot outspend its competitors, it needs to outsmart them.
The well-received XF sedan is already a good example of this, and the innovative new V6 diesel and direct injection V8 gasoline engines -- which set new benchmarks for their segments -- are further evidence that ingenuity is alive and well at the company.
But to survive in the current environment, it needs to keep the innovations and the new styles coming.
And for this reason the new XJ flagship sedan, due this autumn, will be especially closely watched. Inevitably, as the signature Jaguar it will be seen as sending out a message about the brands future -- which is why it must, in equal measure, innovate, excite and inspire.