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Jaguar working to improve specification

More needed: Jaguar’s XF large sedan has been singled out by JLR Australia as a model in need of “a little bit of work” to achieve its potential in Australia.

Intense competition in passenger market presses Jaguar to offer more

Jaguar logo8 Nov 2016

JAGUAR Land Rover Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner has confessed that Jaguar’s small volumes compared with its German rivals make it difficult to match their specification in the “aggressive” passenger car segment.

However, he said his company was looking at ways to improve its standing, particularly with the XF large sedan.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible in Fraser Island, Queensland, Mr Wiesner tagged the Jaguar XF as “requiring a little bit of work” to improve its bidding within a segment in decline.

“Benz have been very impressive with their specification,” he said.

“We’re looking at it (improving specification) all the time (but) the challenge for us is, especially with cars like XE and XF, we’ve got to be very mindful of who are we (and) what we want to be in those segments.

“There’s no point in us just being a clone of what the German brands are doing. Quite frankly they’ve got deeper pockets than us anyway in regards to the battle below the line that no one really sees.” Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have chased double-digit growth in Australia, posting 20-35,000 sales so far this year (to October 2016) compared with 2452 Jaguars.

Mr Wiesner hinted that the smaller British marque could not match some of the aggressive pricing and marketing tactics employed by those brands.

“There’s no point throwing ourselves in there and getting involved in that sort of stuff,” he said.

“We’re not out there chasing volume and doing all of that, but at the same time we need to make sure we’ve got a competitive offering for what we want to be.

“Is it absolutely perfect now? No, but certainly once we’re very clear on how and what we see the roles of those two products (XE and XF) we’ve certainly got a little bit of work to do there to keep both cars in the right space.” Breaking down the medium sedan and large sedan duo, Mr Wiesner clarified: “XE is there or thereabouts, but I think we've got a little bit of work to do around XF.” “The large segment where XF, 5 Series, A6 and so on, is actually eroding, which is even more reason to sit down and work out … what role will you play in a segment that at best is stagnant, but is realistically being eroded by some damn good SUV offerings from whether it’s German brands or us or whoever it might be? “Then just going out there and trying to be same-same doesn’t cut it for anybody, and it’s expensive, especially when you’re trying to manage inventory and everything else. You can make it a very expensive and very time consuming space for a very small part of the business.” According to certain equivalent specification, the Jaguar XF is priced below the equivalent Mercedes-Benz E-Class but requires a greater number of options to bring it on-par for equipment.

For example, a Mercedes-Benz E350d priced from $134,900 includes as standard 20-inch alloy wheels, a large centre screen, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance and blind-spot monitor – all of which add $12,700 to the price of a $120,700 Jaguar XF S diesel.

Asked if updates can be expected for the XF, Mr Wiesner replied: “We’re always looking at it. I’ve asked the guys to make sure we’re clear as we head into the new year, what’s the role? What do we want to be? What do we need to do? “And just make sure we’re really digging into it, and we need to do that with Jaguar anyway.” Mr Wiesner also suggested that improving specification range-wide could help alter a perception that Jaguar is a expensive brand, “which actually is not the case”.

“Certainly that’s great from a perception of the equity of the brand. However, we want to make sure it’s achievable and reachable in the various segments that we play in.” He also added that the passenger car segment was even more aggressive in terms of the pace of specification improvement than the “more consistent” SUV sector, and often within a six-month lead-time between locking in specification and revealing a new product, particular segment benchmarks had changed.

With the core range of XE, XF, XJ, F-Pace and F-Type now having past their initial launch phases, Mr Weisner also argued that dealers had a role to play in maintaining interest in established passenger car lines.

“We’ve got to be very careful that we don’t switch attention and all of a sudden Jaguar sort of just wanders off,” Mr Wiesner continued.

“We’ve got to be, if anything, even more focussed on making sure we continue to develop the Jaguar brand.

“With dealers, they can shift attention depending on what’s coming, what’s new and the like, which is a fairly natural thing (but) we also need the network to be much better at managing a couple of portfolios.”

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