Auto blogFri, 29 Nov 2013 16:01:00 EST
Jaguar-Land Rover is not what you'd call a volume automaker by any stretch of the imagination. But in the dozen years since it started manufacturing at its Halewood plant near Liverpool, England, the automaker has already built its millionth vehicle.
The landmark vehicle is a Range Rover Evoque, done up in white with red roof and mirrors, black wheels and a red and black interior. The crossover is set to be donated to Cancer Research UK, which will auction it off next year to help fund its projects in the north-west of the country.
Halewood started manufacturing the Jaguar X-Type in 2001, then went on to assemble the Land Rover LR2 / Freelander 2 before taking on production of the Evoque a year and a half ago. The facility reached the 300,000-unit milestone just last year as production moved to a 24-hour cycle for the first time in either marque's history.
The upcoming line of compact 3 Series-fighters from Jaguar, often referred to as the Jaguar XS, could consist of a sedan, wagon and possibly a coupe and GT model (think BMW 5 Series GT). The car's all-aluminum architecture also will provide the basis for two new sports utility vehicles. Just how important is the much-touted "baby Jag" project to parent company Jaguar Land Rover? A JLR executive reportedly says the brand's survival is directly linked to the success of the XS, codenamed X760, Autocar reports.
The brand's survival is directly linked to the success of the XS.
"If the X760 fails, it will probably be the end for the [Jaguar] brand," the executive says. But Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's global brand director, claims Jaguar will "build the most advanced, most efficient, most refined car in that [compact luxury sedan] segment. Not almost as good as, but better than the best in the world."
Brazil is the place to be, apparently. Toyota has been investing in the South American country, as has BMW, which announced a $261 million investment in October 2012, on the heels of an Audi factory announcement in San José Chiapa. The high-end immigration is only set to continue, as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar-Land Rover have both announced plans to set up manufacturing operations there.
Mercedes is the big news here, as its new facility will see the German manufacturer invest 170-million euros for production of its next-generation C-Class and upcoming GLA-Class. "Brazil is an important future market. With our local production we accept the challenge and take on the competition," noted Andreas Renschler, Management Board member for Production and Procurement at Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans. Production is expected to begin by 2016.
Jaguar-Land Rover, meanwhile, isn't so concrete in its plans. The news of its investment in South America comes from a job posting for a plant quality manager in Brazil that was picked up by the UK's AutoCar. "Portuguese language skills will be definite advantage" for interested candidates, according to the job listing. The want ad follows on the heels of remarks by Jaguar Land Rover's Dr. Ralph Speth, who said there are "very intensive discussions" with Brazil's government. Unlike Mercedes, there's no mention of which vehicles will be produced in South America, although AutoCar thinks the Freelander, sold in the US as the LR2, is a leading contender.
The success of Jaguar Land Rover in recent years has largely been down to a resurgent product lineup, but a recent move into the research and development will see the British-based, Indian-owned brands take the fight to its German rivals more aggressively than ever before.
JLR is investing 50 million pounds ($80,345,000, as of this writing) in a joint R&D center in central England. The move will more than triple its staff dedicated to research, from 150 to 500, with Wolfgang Epple, JLR's Director of Research and Technology telling Automotive News Europe, "In order to play among the big animals in automotive and to be anchored in the mind of customers you have to have offered something unique, to be first in market. We want to be one of the key premier automotive manufacturers."
Jaguar Land Rover's 50-million-pound contribution represents more than half of the 94-million-pound tab, on the so-called National Automotive Innovation Campus. Based at Warwick University, Tata's European Technical Center, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the Higher Education Funding Council, an agency of the British government, are all chipping in for the facility.
Jaguar's long-rumored crossover won't be built on the same platform as the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, says the Australian site Car Advice. The future of the new CUV remains uncertain, but if Jaguar does dip its toes into the SUV/crossover pool, though, the new vehicle will likely be a car-based soft roader, lacking (or perhaps more appropriately, not needing) the off-road-engineered chops inherent in Land Rover's small CUV platform.
Jaguar product planner Steven De Ploey explained to Car Advice, "There's many groups around the world [platform sharing] - obviously Volkswagen Group is doing it all the time - but I think we have to be careful. He added, "Jaguar is something quite different... It's about capability, but very much on-road focused capability." That seems to gel with our suspicions that the XQ, as it's expected to be called, will share its platform with an upcoming small Jaguar sedan, the oft-rumored X-Type successor.
Still, we'd recommend taking any mention of a Jaguar crossover with a grain of salt. Based on many of the (quite compelling) statements made by De Ploey against a Jag crossover and previous statements made by Jag's design boss, Ian Callum, the case against a leaper-bearing crossover seems strong. If a high-rider were to arrive from Jaguar, though, the article insinuates that it'd be more in line with the BMW X6 or upcoming X4 - sort of a coupe-based crossover. Like we said, grain of salt. If a Jag crossover is going to arrive soon, the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show is the most likely locale for its debut. We'll find out in a few weeks.
Was it right for Chevrolet to detune the 1975 Corvette's base engine to 165 horsepower? Was Aston Martin wrong to make the Toyota iQ-based Cygnet? Is BMW crazy to be testing the new 1 Series with three-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive? It seems now, just as in the 1970s and 1980s, that emissions regulations and social considerations are driving some automakers to adopt unbefitting practices to maintain acceptance in the eyes of governments and consumers. Jaguar has jumped on the bandwagon, and is considering development of small, frugal, front-wheel-drive cars to help lower Jaguar Land Rover's average vehicle CO2 levels in light of tightening European emissions regulations, Autocar reports.
By 2020, the European Union expects the model range of every manufacturer to average 95 grams per kilometer, which is a new law passed by the European Parliament in April. Manufacturers who make more than 300,000 vehicles per year must meet these targets, and JLR is expected to be producing up to 700,000 vehicles per year by then. CO2 regulations after 2020 will only get stricter, as EU politicians already are talking about lowering CO2 levels to between 68 g/km and 78 g/km. (To put that in perspective, Autocar posits that driving a fully charged electric vehicle in Europe produces about 75 g/km when factoring in the power-generation infrastructure.)
Jaguar has some choices here, but so far they all have drawbacks. It could develop a new, compact chassis architecture for a line of compact vehicles, but the investment required for such a project could be prohibitively expensive. Jaguar has been looking into using the Land Rover Evoque platform for a small SUV, Autocar reports, but Land Rover brand manager John Edwards raises issue with such a plan, saying it may not be financially feasible.
Jaguar has announced that Jeff Curry will be serving as the brand's new North American vice president, effective August 13. The move is a coup for Jag, which lured Curry away from his previous posting as VP of marketing for Ferrari North America, and is further evidence of just how strong Jaguar's comeback has gotten.
Curry has spent over 20 years in the auto industry, and has worked with Audi, SiriusXM and Land Rover, where he made his start in the industry. His primary responsibilities with Jaguar will cover marketing communications, customer relationship management, and product planning.
Jaguar Land Rover's North American president, Andy Goss, heaped praise on the brand's newest addition saying, "Jeff brings with him extensive automotive and luxury marketing experience, critical expertise in leading-edge technologies and a personal passion for automobiles."
Is It An Off-Road Adventure Or Just A Walk In The Park?
I remember having to get out and lock hubs and shift into neutral to engage low range.
Coming off press previews of the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover and the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee that involved some heavy-duty off-road rock climbing, I'm simply amazed at the capabilities that these vehicles possess. But even more impressive (or troubling depending on your perspective) is the relative ease with which you can operate these vehicles in seemingly impossible terrain.
As it begins the rollout of the all-wheel-drive Jaguar XJ and XF models, Jaguar Land Rover has just announced that it has opened a new facility in northern Minnesota for winter testing. Located in International Falls, MN (on the US and Canadian border), the British automaker says it is one of the coldest locations in the Continental US. Jaguar's new Instinctive All Wheel Drive system was developed primarily to help sell more cars in the northern US, so it only makes sense to open a testing area in the US as well.
With temperatures that can drop to minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit, International Falls was chosen to mimic some of the worst weather a Jaguar or Land Rover will ever see. The grounds house testing chambers, various road surfaces and even a frozen lake. This new facility complements the hot-weather testing grounds in Phoenix, AZ.
The official press release is posted below.
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing markets for Land Rover, so it makes sense that the automaker is looking to set up shop in the region. According to Automotive News, Jaguar Land Rover is in talks with the people of Saudi Arabia to build a factory in the country at an expected initial cost of $1.2 billion. Still in the early stage of talks, the proposed facility could start up by 2017 using locally sourced materials such as steel and aluminum.
Such an arrangement could be beneficial for both entities as Saudi Arabia looks to diversify its oil-reliant economy and Land Rover could get local production capacity of around 50,000 units. The report also says that the agreement talks about the possibility for Jaguar models to be built at the same plant further down the road.
This won't be the first vehicle produced in Saudi Arabia - that honor goes to the KSU Gazal-1 - but it will be the first from a major global automaker.