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Sales burden weighs down Jaguar XF wagon

Excess baggage: Jaguar is worried that sales of the XF Sportbrake will not reach anywhere near the 200 or so required to justify its importation.

Low sales may crush Jaguar’s mid-size luxury wagon even before it arrives

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Jaguar logo31 Jul 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

JAGUAR is already casting doubts over the showroom viability of its XF wagon, despite the car being slated for an Australian launch midway through next year.

Jaguar Australia managing director David Blackhall said this week that the British luxury brand would struggle to make the XF Sportbrake’s projected sales numbers add up due to the market’s indifference towards luxury wagons.

Mr Blackhall said while Jaguar had not yet abandoned plans to bring the Sportsbrake to Australia, the company would find it challenging to lure customers away from their preferred soft-roaders and crossovers.

According to one insider, Jaguar would have to sell at least 200 wagons annually to justify the expense in bringing the Sportbrake to market.

However, a 20 per cent surge in XF sedan volume this year on the back of the newly released turbocharged four-cylinder models might be the reprieve the wagon requires.

To the end of June, Jaguar has sold 429 XFs, compared with 358 in the first six months of last year.

Earlier this year, Mr Blackhall said the delay in releasing the British-built competitor to BMW’s 5 Series wagon was down to Jaguar having to re-engineer aspects of the car to meet stringent Australian Design Rules, with child-seat anchor points one of the biggest challenges.

“We were asked to take it and we are going to take it,” Mr Blackhall said.

“But the challenge is to find the volume. We look at BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s (limited wagon sales) and that’s with their years of experience (selling luxury wagons) … and we don’t have the volume they do. So how many wagons could we sell? “One of the problems is that buyers don’t even look at them. They prefer to buy SUVs rather than wagons.”

However, Jaguar is committed to reaching into new territories worldwide to increase its sales.

“We are looking hard at segments we are not participating in,” Mr Blackhall said.

Announced in March 2012, the XF Sportbrake is expected to remain a niche product in Australia, largely because it will be special-order and feature only a diesel engine.

In Britain it attracts a 10 per cent premium over the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel sedan, which would put the Australian version of the carryall in the $80,000-plus end of the mid-sized luxury wagon class.

Besides the 5 Series, competitors include the Audi A6 Avant, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo V70.

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