Jaguar has confirmed that it will build the F-type roadster which debuted a year ago as a concept car at the 2000 Detroit motor show.

The all-new, compact Jaguar roadster will be the fifth model in the English marque's expanding model line-up and is a spiritual successor to the famous 1950s D-type racer and the E-type roadster first launched in 1961.

Confirming the production green light at the Los Angeles International motor show, Jaguar's chairman, former BMW research and development chief Wolfgang Reitzle, said: "Jaguar is one of the most evocative brands in the world and there is a renewed commitment to create cars that stir people's emotions. The overwhelmingly positive reaction across the globe to last year's concept has convinced us to build the F-type."

Reitzle expects the new roadster will be in showrooms in about three years' time.

"While the F-type will embody all the passion and excitement of past roadsters such as the XK120 and E-Type, it clearly signals a fresh direction for Jaguar sports cars in the future, " he said.

A Jaguar team spent 12 months considering both the business implications and potential launch timing for the F-type.

A crucial issue for the study team was to determine the relative priority of the additional roadster model in the context of the company's ambitious long term product plan which will see it soon introduce the X-type saloon, a rival for BMW's popular 3-series and Audi's A4 models, taking Jaguar into a completely new market segment in which it has never before competed.

The smaller, more affordable F-type roadster will complement the current V8-powered XK and XKR luxury sports coupe range and extend Jaguar's line-up to five distinct model ranges - three saloon and two sports car lines.

Over the next three years, Jaguar will launch 15 new or significantly revised cars and powertrains with the F-type the 16th. From a manufacturer that three years ago had only a two-model line up, this represents a massive investment in design, engineering and manufacturing.

Said Reitzle: "Today, Jaguar is the fastest growing of all car manufacturers, but this growth is being managed very carefully to ensure that we sustain our quality standards and do not over-extend the brand."

The decision to take the F-type from concept to production coincides with the 40th anniversary of the E-Type, which was unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 1961. The E-Type was the latest in a line of Jaguar sports cars that began with the SS90 and SS100 of the thirties, re-started with the revolutionary XK120 in 1948 and continued with the XK140 and XK150 of the fifties. The race-bred E-Type is still hailed as one of the greatest automotive designs of all time.

Jaguar says its F-type designers have tried to create an "uncompromised roadster which evokes the spirit of the legendary E-Type but with a style that is both functional and contemporary".