Jaguar Land Rover

Are Brits proud enough of Jaguar Land Rover?

Juergen StackmannDuring an enlightening round table with Volkswagen brand CEO Juergen Stackmann at the Geneva Motor Show, he made an interesting observation: the turnaround of Jaguar Land Rover over recent years has been remarkable, with the firm becoming a genuine premium market player with world-class products in just a single model cycle – an outstanding performance.

“You must be very proud, no?”

It struck me: are we? Do we really appreciate just what the home brand has achieved following the unshackling from Ford into a standalone group, which happened just as the 2008 recession struck?

Maybe with Land Rover, the profitable side of the group, we do – although few could have expected the smash-hit Range Rover Evoque, the margin-rich continuation of the Range Rover Sport and the sheer brilliance of the latest Range Rover. But then, Land Rover’s always done well: in a world now besotted by SUVs, it would almost be a surprise if it wasn’t thriving.

Jaguar, though – there’s the real story. Back in 2008, it was making the elderly XJ, the low volume XK and had just launched the breakout XF – a car that, for all its wonderful style and beautiful interior (arguably more beautiful than today’s cabins), was still derived from Ford-sourced S-Type underpinnings.

The XF was Jaguar’s only volume car and even this was hardly high volume. Lacking a serious sales alternative to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it really was a minnow in the premium sector. The Germans simply didn’t consider it a serious rival.

Jaguar Land Rover

Now look at it: there’s a brand-new XE made from an all-Jaguar, aluminium-intensive platform, winning plaudits and leaping straight into the position of driver’s car alternative to the 3 Series. There’s an all-new XF, again heavily using aluminium, that on paper makes as much rational, tax-friendly sense to business users as the smaller XE does.

The svelte XJ has been tweaked and the F-Type continues to get ever-faster and more lairy, neither car not really registering on saes charts but providing useful image-boost assets for the firm.

And soon, there’ll be the F-Pace. Jaguar’s first SUV. A great-looking machine that’s chasing the Porsche Macan and, by all accounts, is just as good to drive. Unlike the so-so XE and XF interiors, its cabin is also bang on the money, while both pricing and CO2 are double-take competitive.

The F-Pace, along with the XE, are going to transform Jaguar. Its sales are, relative to previous years, going to skyrocket and it may finally be able to stand on its own two feet rather than being propped up by the financial might of Land Rover.

And if Jaguar’s able to do this in a generation, what else could it do once the momentum really starts to flow?

Stackmann is right to ask us if we’re proud of Jaguar Land Rover. Perhaps we should ask ourselves that. Put the usual British cynicism to one side for a moment: even in the boardrooms of giant German car brands, JLR’s achievements are being recognised. Maybe it’s time we started shouting about them too.

8 replies
  1. CockneyblokefromReading
    CockneyblokefromReading says:

    British people might be more proud of JLR if it made any attempt at being British! But it doesn’t. It doesn’t promote itself as a British company…at all! If you go to their UK website right now, you’ll see their cars are in left-hand drive form. All the concept cars are ALWAYS in left-hand drive form – even in a graphic! Their TV ads always show a left-hand drive car. This shouldn’t be seen as an attempt to promote JLR as a world brand, because other companies – who are not British – don’t do it. Bentley go out of their way to show right-hand drive cars, as was their gorgeous EXP 10, shown the world over in ‘British’ drive. BMW are careful to show MINIs in right-hand drive – and often put a Union Jack on the roofs as well. If you see Peugeot and Renault ads, you’ll note that they use ‘British’ cars driving on the left…and they’re French, for crying out loud.

    JLR are considering manufacturing many of their cars abroad, with the Evoque being made in Brazil, and other models in Austria. They have even said that the new Defender (should it ever emerge!) probably won’t be made here…a Defender, being made abroad!

    If JLR starts acting like a British company then maybe we should start being proud of it. But I don’t see the former starting any day soon. By the way, if you look at your own picture, you’ll see it’s set in London, with strange number plates, but both cars are left-hand drive.

    Reply
    • RayCee
      RayCee says:

      Do you seriously believe that many people notice things like which side the steering wheel is on ? I didn’t. All car companies today make cars in different countries. JLR products are designed and almost exclusively built it the UK.

      The fact is the British are the put-down kings. The culture of the UK is see the negative and focus on that. JLR is a British company showcasing UK expertise.

      Reply
  2. littletime
    littletime says:

    Since all of the car companies were sold off to foreign companies nobody really cares about what ‘nationality’ the car is. Japanese cars used to be frowned up – now they make the technically best cars (though not necessarily the most desirable). When someone buys an Audi/BMW/Merc in the UK they don’t really care that it’s German – only that it is a desirable luxury brand. It’s a global economy now and people realise that even if it is on a subconscious level only.

    Reply

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