Jaguar is moving upmarket to challenge Bentley with EVs. Does it stand a chance?

Jaguar has previously announced it is planning become a fully electric brand by 2025. But that tight deadline is not even the biggest news coming from the storied british marque. CEO Thierry Bolloré, who took office last year, also indicated during an interview with Auto Express that Jaguar is aiming to make a bold move upmarket.

Photo credit: Autoevolution

It is looking to no longer compete with brands like Audi, BMW, Lexus or Volvo, but has its eyes set on the price bracket in which Porsche, Bentley and Aston Martin operate: 100,000 British Pounds (US$140,000 / €115.000,-) and above.

The CEO, who has switched to JLR from Renault, asserted that while the brand currently is slightly “damaged” and doesn’t have the cachet it used to have in the times of the E-Type, he’s planning to have the brand undergo a complete makeover while switching to EV only. This leaves little room for any of the models in Jaguar’s current line-up, although the electric I-Pace is scheduled to overlap with the new range of models as it’ll continue in its current form until at least 2025. Reportedly there are two SUVs and a sports coupe in the product pipeline, although this is still unconfirmed.

Before this interview, the brand had already announced that plans for a new all-electric Jaguar XJ have been scrapped for the time being, even though it was already in the final stages of development and this means a huge capital write-off. One of the major reasons for this decision is that the company is aiming to move Jaguar EVs to a platform that’s been developed from the ground up to be EV-only, instead of a modular platform that suits both ICE models and EVs. JLR’s modular MLA platform (which would also underpin the XJ) will now be used exclusively for Land Rover. This decision initially sparked rumors that JLR is looking to break Jaguar free from Land Rover in order to make it easier to sell off the unprofitable brand while keeping the much more successful Land Rover brand and its Range Rover, Discovery and Defender product lines.

An all-new and all-electric XJ is still in the midterm plans, but Bolloré said JLR will look outside the company for an electric platform suitable for Jaguar, without specifying any suppliers or platforms just yet. Considering the size and premium qualities Jaguar will be looking for, the EVA platform from the Mercedes-Benz EQS might be a suitable candidate. Especially since VW Group has claimed it won’t make their upmarket PPE platform for Audi and Porsche available to other manufacturers, as opposed to its MQB platform which is open for sharing.

Can Jaguar deliver?

Now back to the question in the title: considering Jaguar is somewhat of a damaged brand that has consistently failed to become successful in modern times, does it have a chance to move upmarket and rival Bentley, Porsche and Aston Martin with its upcoming electric cars?

I personally think it actually does have a shot. The brand’s attempts to move downmarket have never been very succesful, be it from a commercial standpoint (Jaguar XE) or image-wise (X-Type, E-Pace). And remember, Jaguar from before the 1980s was a brand that played in the same league as some of the other British luxury brands, before stopped evolving the XJ’s design and started to enter lower segment in an attempt to chase volumes. Bolloré is now simply reversing this move downmarket. And it’s not like this has never been done before: look at where Rolls-Royce and Bentley were a few decades ago, before they were bought by BMW and VW Group. They’ve come a long way from the outdated and unreliable models they were making in the 1980s and 90s. And for Jaguar to join them where they’re currently at, its volumes will drop from about 100,000 cars per year to just 10,000, which is a reasonable figure to reach for a brand that’s still well-known all across the world. And large luxury cars are perfectly suitable for electric powertrains, as they’re less price sensitive, have ample room for huge batteries to reduce range anxiety and provide a silent and smooth driving experience. Also keep in mind JLR already knows how to build desirable upscale vehicles and it already knows the clientele the new Jaguar will be aiming for, as those 100k + prices are currently also being handily paid for Range Rovers, and in volumes that outrun the entire Jaguar line-up. If even a fraction of those clients is looking for an upper-luxury EV next to their gas guzzling SUV, they won’t have to look beyond the company now.

Photo credit: Auto Express

Also, the switch to EVs is a great opportunity to start off with a clean sheet, outpacing rivals which are much slower to make the switch to electric mobility and therefore positioning itself as a technology leader. And don’t forget EV buyers are clearly more susceptible to high tech features and technology than to heritage brand image, as proven by Tesla. Especially in China, which already happens to be Jaguar’s biggest market at this moment, at 30% of its worldwide volumes. With Gerry McGovern as the Creative Officer, I’m sure the designs will be appealing as well.

Of course it won’t be easy and of course there will be many sceptics. Only time will tell if Jaguar can deliver on Bolloré’s promises or if this was all a smokescreen in preparation of a spin-off of the Jaguar brand while the company moves its focus on Land Rover. I personally don’t believe the latter, as the company will have to sell a good number of EVs in order to be able to continue raking in the profits from selling Range Rovers. Let me know what you think in the comments.

  1. Jag wasn’t able to compete with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, so they decide to rival Aston, Bentley or Rolls, where the Germans are failing. Where’s the logic? If I’m unsuccessful I don’t move to a territory where I’m going to be much more unsuccessful… But Maserati and Alfa are also facing this problem recently: they don’t know how to position themselves to have significant sales numbers, without throwing the exclusivity away…

  2. Thing is Bentley has VW the largest carmaker in the world behind them and Rolls has BMW .
    JLR are already in trouble ,even Land Rover dont sell enough cars to be profitable so where are they going to get the money from?
    jag needs to be sold off to someone with big pockets and a good EV platform , that company is Hyundai . they already have genesis which is everything jag should be so its an easy merge.

    1. Jaguar can’t be sold separately, because it’s together with Land Rover which is much more marketable + Jag is far-far behind Hyundai’s overall knowledge. Genesis will make itself a successful brand, it doesn’t need anyone to achieve that.

  3. The market of Jaguar won’t be BMW/Mercedes or Rolls-Royce/Bentley, it’s in-between, it’s Maserati, Porsche and Tesla in some models.

  4. Gerry McGovern. There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. It’ll have to be special.

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