Part of major shake-ups at Jaguar-Land Rover.
Hit by declining sales and a serious expenditure towards electric mobility, British automaker Jaguar-Land Rover are now forced to make some hard decisions about the future of their products, namely the slow-selling Jaguar XE & XF, as well as the equally-slow Land Rover Discovery.
The Discovery in particular is an interesting case, given that it arrived at a time when success would have been assumed to be a surety for a large, three-row SUV. But while competitors like the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 have gone on to sell in healthy numbers, less than 40,000 Discoveries found new homes in the first 11-months of 2018. That pales even in comparison to the Range Rover Sport (which sold over 70k), Range Rover Velar (which sold over 61k), and even the full-fat Range Rover (which saw nearly 49k deliveries).
But while the Disco’s sales performance might not come as a surprise (given the emptiness of entry-level models and the Marmite styling), the lacklustre performance of the Jaguar XE & XF saloons are of note, too. Amazingly, the two cars have done so badly sales-wise in 2018 that in the month of November, Autocar reports that their combined sales figure was easily (and silently) overtaken by the I-Pace electric SUV (eat that, Deloitte). As a result, the management at JLR are thinking that perhaps would be prudent to replace both cars with one high-tech, low-emissions saloon that can play both fields.
The resulting model should be for today like the original XF was when that debuted ever so long ago, a car smaller than the mid-sizers but bigger than the compacts in the premium segment, but with a distinct tech focus beneath the skin. The new car would likely sit on the new MLA aluminium platform, which allows for internal-combustion, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and full-electric powertrains.
This new model would then be complimentary to the next-generation XJ as it were, as that’s being reimagined as an all-electric limousine. But a further issue arises, as JLR executive director of corporate strategy Hanno Kirner points out, that some 43% of customers expect EVs to be as easy to recharge as it is to fill up an internal combustion car with fuel. Knowing it isn’t, it’s hampered EV take-up rate considerably.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom for Jaguar-Land Rover this year, at least. Deliveries of the recently-launched Range Rover Evoque are slated for March, while a heavily-revised Discovery Sport and all-new Defender are scheduled to take place before the year is up. Alongside updated versions of Jaguars XE & XF, perhaps there’s time yet for JLR to make a turnaround before the big decisions need to be actioned on. Perhaps.