NEW YORK -- Jaguar executives are counting on the redesigned XJ to boost global sales by as much as 50 percent this year.
The replacement XJ sedan goes on sale next month in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Germany in both short- and long-wheelbase versions -- the first time Jaguar has launched a vehicle simultaneously in four major markets, said Mike O'Driscoll, managing director of Jaguar Cars Ltd.
Jaguar hopes the XJ will help boost sales to 75,000 units this year. Jaguar sales dropped 21 percent last year to 51,855 units worldwide, including 11,955 cars in the United States, down 19 percent from a year earlier.
The XJ is important because since Jaguar stopped producing the 2009 XJ last summer, the brand has "almost been a one-model company," Gary Temple, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America told Automotive News in February. Dealers have relied primarily on the XF mid-sized sedan, which went on sale in 2008.
Although sales of the XJ will be fewer than those of the less expensive XF and XK ranges, O'Driscoll says the XJ will reignite interest in the brand because of substantial changes on the car.
The sedan has a coupe-like profile with a glass panoramic roof and blacked-out C-pillars. The XJ interior has leather, bright trim and wood as standard. High-technology features include "virtual" gauges on a TV-like screen.
The XJ will compete against the Mercedes-Benz S class, BMW 7 series and Audi A8. The 2011 XJ starts at $72,500, including freight, and rises to $115,000 for the long-wheelbase XJL Supersport.
Jaguar, which was sold by Ford Motor Co. to Tata Motors Ltd. of India in June 2008, has been repositioning itself as a more upscale premium brand.
O'Driscoll says that within the past 27 months Jaguar has restyled or redesigned all three cars and changed the way it markets them: "We are back building sporty, stylish and exclusive cars -- the kind that made Jaguar a name around the world."