25 January 2015

The Year Of The Cat

I do like the song of that title but no, I'm writing about another cat. The Jaguar car, and it's new direction. The first Jaguar car was made in 1935, the SS Jaguar saloon car. Eighty years later and Jaguar cars seems genuinely ready to pounce.

Jaguar was a popular premium car many years ago, but with under investment and then tepid Ford ownership, it was struggling a bit. Ford hired Ralf Speth (with 20 years experience at BMW) to run it's Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which included Jaguar. Then when Tata acquired Jaguar and Land Rover, Dr Speth became CEO of them both. With Tata's hands off management style and Ian Callum's excellent design flair, Dr Speth set about revitalising the marque.

The XE will go places

A challenging and some would say risky move is entering the small premium sedan segment. The new Jaguar XE needs to take the fight to a segment where German marques are popular. A way to do that is get people who are familiar with volume premium manufacturing. Perhaps that is why recently a distinctly BMW flavour has come to Jaguar. Wolfgang Epple is the R&D boss (24 years BMW), Wolfgang Ziebart as engineering boss (23 years BMW) and Wolfgang Stadler the manufacturing boss (30 years BMW).  I assume that ensemble would be ideal to know how to take that model to success.

Summary: With the team Jaguar has, including it's BMW connection, this will surely be the year of the cat. Jaguar isn't going top get the volumes the 3 Series gets, it hasn't got the capacity nor dealer coverage anyway. It needs to ruffle feathers and I think the XE will do that. It's something cats are good at.

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