DETROIT -- Jaguar Land Rover is about to become the latest luxury automaker to take the plunge into four-cylinder engines.
The company is developing a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline engine to give customers a more fuel-efficient option than the larger power plants its brands are known for, Joe Eberhardt, JLR North America president, said here at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress.
He said many premium-car customers are much less concerned with having six or eight cylinders turning their wheels, and place more emphasis on going easy at the pump than in the past.
“I think customers today are interested in performance rather than the technology that’s under the hood,” Eberhardt said. He declined to elaborate on the gas engine’s likely horsepower or other attributes.
The engine is being developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover and will be made at its new $750 million engine plant in England. The plant will also make 2.0-liter turbo diesels that will be rolled out first.
JLR is preparing for a diesel offensive in the U.S. market, where it will soon offer diesel options on just about every model in its lineup. Its 2.0-liter diesel will appear first in the Jaguar XE compact sedan. The 2016 Range Rover, due out late this year, will get a 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel.
JLR is owned by India’s Tata Motors.
Eberhardt said Jaguar and Land Rover have been reborn under Tata’s ownership. “We only focus on those two brands,” he said. “We don’t have a stable of eight, nine brands to look after.”
Jaguar and Land Rover struggled to make money when they were part of Ford’s luxury group, where they competed internally for funding and resources with the other European car makers Ford controlled -- Volvo and Aston Martin.
This year JLR has a shot at selling more than 500,000 vehicles worldwide for the first time ever, and is generating healthy profits. “You don’t necessarily have to be big to be successful,” Eberhardt said.
Powered by new models developed with Tata’s investment in the group, JLR’s global sales rose 9 percent in 2014 to 462,678 vehicles.