LONDON – Jaguar Land Rover sees the U.S. as key to the future success of the Jaguar brand, which is being reinvented.
JLR is overhauling Jaguar by reducing its model range and pushing the brand higher upmarket to compete with Bentley and Porsche instead of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The U.S. market was central to the success of Jaguar in the 1990s.
"This brand was incredibly successful in North America 25 years ago before we took the compromises and the decisions we made," JLR CEO Adrian Mardell told investors last month.
Jaguar's past U.S. success is now “lost within Ford Motor Company data,” said Mardell, who was confirmed as JLR CEO on July 20 after holding the position on an interim basis.
Mardell joined JLR in 1990, the year after Ford bought the company. Back then, Jaguar was targeting a much richer customer.
The brand hopes to be similarly successful with its new, more luxurious range. "There are 20 million millionaires in the U.S. alone," Mardell said. "So, a lower volume, higher price positioning is absolutely the right position for Jaguar today."
Jaguar's push for volume in Ford’s later years of ownership as well as during its current Tata Group ownership has meant it has lost connection with the wealthier buyer group.
"There has been a [25 year] void in between. So, it's reasonable to assume there is a lot of work to build that brand equity," Mardell said.
Ford paid $2.5 billion for Jaguar in 1989, before selling it with Land Rover to Tata in 2008 for $2.3 billion.
End to 'mediocrity'
Jaguar expanded its range in recent years to include three sedans, three crossovers and a sports car in a bid to create a British version of BMW.
However, trying to appeal as many premium buyers as possible pushed the brand into “mediocrity,” JLR Chief Creative Officer Gerry McGovern said at the same investor event, held at JLR’s HQ in Gaydon, central England.
McGovern is leading the design of the first new model of Jaguar's new era, a full-electric four-door GT. The GT will be the first of three all-new electric Jaguars. It will be unveiled this year and will go on sale next year, starting at 100,000 pounds ($129,000) in the U.K.
The design of the new models will split opinion, McGovern said.
“What we will not worry about is being loved by everybody, because that is the kiss of death,” he said. “That is what put Jaguar in the situation it is in today, which is with no equity whatsoever.”
In April this year, McGovern said future Jaguars will tap into the iconic styling of models such as the E-Type but they will be radically reimagined. "They will shock and they will be fearless," he said.
New retail model
Jaguars will be sold using a different business model, JLR chief commercial officer Lennard Hoornik said at the investor event without going into much detail.
Jaguars will not be offered in every JLR dealership. The company is dividing Jaguar Land Rover into what it terms a House of Brands. Land Rover is being split into the Range Rover, Discovery and the Defender brands. JLR will also set up Jaguar-only 'boutiques.'