Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark has shrugged off suggestions that a small sedan to compete with the 3 Series is a done deal, hinting that a small SUV may make it to market first.
“I’ve talked about that we aim to expand Jaguar down the price ladder into that price segment where the 3 Series and other cars like it sit.
“But I’ve never said it would be a direct 3 Series rival.
“We are working on all kinds of things, and running all kinds of mules around.”
Hallmark (above) says that internal debate has been whether to return to the small sedan segment – of which Jaguar has previously failed in with the X-Type – or to find a less competitive, but thriving segment … such as small SUVs.
“You’ve got to look at more than just the volume.
“It [the small sedan segment] is the biggest volume, certainly. But it’s also the most competitive. So do you enter the segment and go head-to-head in the most competitive fleet-orientated segment or find a more profitable [segment]?”
Asked whether Hallmark has effectively answered his own question, he answered that the latter option “could be” the way to go.
Hallmark confirmed that a prestige hatchback – to compete with 1 Series and A-Class – “wouldn’t be our first priority”, meaning that it will be race between a 3 Series sedan rival (mule above) or an X3 small SUV rival as the first affordable sub-$70,000 Jaguar to market.
The brand director quickly dismissed notions that a small SUV would tread on sibling brand Land Rover’s toes, saying that platform sharing between the two brands is okay so long as the products remain “pure” to each marque, and are reflective of the two very different target markets.
“There’s nothing to stop us [Jaguar building an SUV],” Hallmark argued. “There’s nothing to stop Land Rover doing a sedan…
“We’re definitely looking to share more components and systems [with Land Rover] than ever we did in the past. We have to commonise manufacturing processes … and big investments.
“Would we take an existing Land Rover or Jaguar and swap badges? Definitely not, that’s a proven model of failure.
“But can we use some of the architectural modules to create products that cross the boundaries? Absolutely.”
In contrast to the view that the small sedan segment is popular, but overcrowded and fleet-oriented, the global director said that the SUV market continues to boom and there’s plenty of share left to go around.
“If there are 24 million SUVs sold on earth, and even if Land Rover doubled the number of SUVs that they sell today, that’s still 90-something per cent left to go at,” he argues.
“So why can’t Jaguar have a go at SUVs? There’s no internal inhibitions about it whatsoever.”
JLR will open a new engine plant in the West Midlands of England in 2015 to produce the company’s own four-cylinder petrol, diesel and hybrid drivetrains, for use in Jaguars, Land Rovers, “and others”.
That will signal the end of sharing agreements with Ford for the use of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine currently in the XF, and will likely coincide with the introduction of a new, cheaper Jaguar model – be it a small sedan or SUV.
It was, however, rejected that Jaguar will use the nameplates Q-Type or QS for the forthcoming smaller model.
“Just to cause confusion, we’ve registered all type of alpha-type names,” mused Hallmark. “Whether we use them or not is yet to be seen … [it’s] just to disguise what we are doing.”