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Jaguar targets ‘opportunity’ in Australia

Claws out: Jaguar is planning to take a bigger chunk of the Australian luxury car market with a more comprehensive range, including its pretty F-Type sportscar, which now extends to 12 variants.

Expanded range and transformed quality will redeem local reputation, says Jaguar

6 Apr 2015


JAGUAR is planning to improve its reputation in Australia with a more reliable and comprehensive range of vehicles and a greater emphasis on customer satisfaction and consumer confidence, according to global brand director Steven De Ploey.

The arrival of its XE mid-sized luxury sedan in the third quarter will expand the Jaguar range to three executive sedans and two sportscars, and the British prestige car-maker says the increased choice coupled with dramatically improved quality will attract more people to the brand.

Since the company was taken over in 2008 by the Indian automotive giant Tata Motors, Jaguar has reported exponential improvements to the build quality and performance of its models, and a key focus is to attract Australian buyers back to the brand.

Speaking at a pre-show reveal of the new XF large sedan in New York last week, Mr De Ploey told GoAuto that Australia was a “pocket” of opportunity that had been hard to infiltrate.

“The largest car markets for us around the world in order of sales are China, then we have the UK, we’ve got the US and then Europe, but there are a couple of pockets where we are now increasingly focused in terms of the opportunity – one of them being Australia,” he said.

“Until we have XE in your market, it is quite hard to penetrate that market.

Recently most brands have been significantly realigning their prices because the market is demanding better value.

“With XF and XJ, to be honest, we have struggled to make inroads, but with XE we finally have product that appeals to a younger audience at a price point that’s actually accessible to a great majority of premium buyers in Australia.”

He added that Jaguar’s limited model range in comparison with many of its European rivals had meant many customers failed to consider the brand on the basis of it being too small.

“Previously the only car that was very visible in the Australian market was the XF and I think people perceived us a one-car brand, which never infuses a lot of trust,” he said.

“Now we have an XE, an XF and an XJ. This is a competitive proposition and it’s here to stay. You don’t need to be afraid that in three years’ time there won’t be a brand.”

In addition to the fresh sedan line-up, Jaguar has recently expanded its F-Type two-seater sportscar range to include two- and four-wheel-drive options in convertible or coupe body styles, and with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

Mr De Ploey said a comprehensive range of variants was one of the critical secrets to the success of the venerable Porsche 911, which would now be under increased pressure from the F-Type.

“Porsche 911 customers are extremely loyal people and the salespeople are extremely well trained how to sell this car, and how to stop people buying into another brand,” he said.

“One of the key arguments is range and that we (Jaguar) don’t have the car that you are used to buying from us, but now with the expansion of the range that’s a very important argument that we’ve taken away from them.

“We’ve got exactly what they’ve got just versus 911, 25 or 30 per cent below the cost for the same spec. Your choice.

“Porsche inflow on the F-Type is probably about 10 to 15 per cent of the volume. So it’s good but it’s a very slow progress.”

But Mr De Ploey said offering a diverse range was only half the battle and for the brand to really flourish it would need to repair a poor reputation resulting from previous less-reliable vehicles.

“What we are showing here with the quality results we have achieved with JD Power in the States is equally relevant in Australia,” he said.

“Some of the reliability issues we faced 30 years ago — there are still legacy issues here in the States in customer’s minds and very much as well in Australia’s market.

“Because of the climate conditions and the size of the country, reliability is key.”

Mr De Ploey said attending to quality and reliability was just the start of the redemption strategy, with communication of the improvements equally important.

“Over the last 10 years we have massively boosted the quality of our vehicles but that doesn’t mean everybody knows that,” he said. “I believe our biggest challenge in the Australian market is to convince customers that there’s now a fourth choice in the market where they don’t need to have any concerns about reliability.

“In fact, if they look at the stats, Jaguar is sitting above the BMWs, Audis and Mercedes in terms of vehicle quality and customer satisfaction.

“What we are doing as a strategy is to focus a lot more on informing customers about all the great things a Jaguar has. To be honest, five or 10 years ago it was all about a very pretty car but despite the cars having quite a bit of technology in it, we never really stressed those items and assumed people would just find out.

“If you have this legacy as we do in the Australian market you have to make it a lot more obvious. Whether it’s TV campaigns, digital and especially the PR side, that’s how we want to break through.”

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