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Smaller powertrains drive Jaguar forward

12 November 2013 Tom Libby

After two lackluster years, Jaguar is now thriving in the US. In both 2011 and 2012, Jaguar suffered registration declines even though the industry recorded double-digit growth. But this year, Jaguar's registrations have jumped 25% through August when compared to a year ago. This is the fourth highest year-over-year gain among all makes (with 1,000 or more registrations) that were also on the market for all of 2012, after Porsche, Cadillac and Subaru. Jaguar's gain is almost three times the industry's eight-month improvement of 8.5%.

Certainly some of Jaguar's success is due to the strong launch of the all-new F-Type cabriolet, which has 1,125 registrations since launching in May. The F-Type has been widely praised as offering a combination of superior performance and eye-catching styling, Jaguar's traditional strengths. The launch of the F-Type coupe next summer should provide additional registrations for both the model and the make.

But Jaguar's success goes beyond the F-Type. If the F-Type is removed from the make's registrations, Jaguar is still up 11% year-over-year, again outpacing the industry.

Prior to 2013, Jaguars were available in the US with any powertrain you wanted as long as it was an eight-cylinder engine with rear-wheel drive (to use a derivative of Henry Ford's comment that the Model T was available in any color you wanted as long as it was black). This was out of synch with an industry that was moving toward smaller engines and greater use of all-wheel drive. The chart below shows the mix of powertrains in the Luxury Traditional Midsize Segment as well as for Jaguar's entry in that segment (and the make's number one volume model), the XF. The data illustrate that while the XF was only offered with a RWD V-8 powertrain, the segment's powertrain mix had been skewed towards six-cylinder engines (with a recent rise in four-cylinders) with a significant mix of all-wheel drive vehicles. As soon as the XF offered these powertrain options in 2013, its mix immediately shifted dramatically to the smaller engines and all-wheel drive. These data strongly suggest that Jaguar's pre-2013 performance was restricted by a lack of appropriate powertrains and that the future offers the potential for improved market performance now that this restriction has been eliminated.

Luxury Traditional Midsize Segment Powertrain Mix

The same shift has occurred in the powertrain mix of the larger Jaguar XJ, with similar year-over-year registration gains, though the XJ's volumes are lower because it competes in the smaller full-size luxury sedan category.

Jaguar's year-over-year gains will most likely moderate as its powertrain mix remains similar to that of the luxury market. However, within the next 36 months, Jaguar will launch two all-new incremental models in the US, a compact sedan and compact crossover, giving it competitive entries in two of the larger premium segments for the first time.

Tom Libby is manager, loyalty practice and industry analysis, IHS Automotive
Posted 12 November 2013

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