Blog: Dave LeggettJaguar - where did it go wrong?

Dave Leggett | 4 November 2003

As speculation continues over the fate of Jaguar's Browns Lane plant, I can't help thinking that Ford's big mistake in its management of Jaguar was to add one model too many - namely the X-type. The problems for Jaguar presented by that model add up.

First, sales have failed to hit expectations in both North America and Europe. The car is not perceived as a winning package and is viewed as over-priced and some way behind best-in-class. Secondly, the car has not exactly been good for the Jaguar brand. The hoped for reach to younger consumers hasn't happened and the X-type customer demographics are little different to those of the S-type. And with the X-type widely perceived as a second rate Jag and a poor seller, it won't have done much to enhance the image of the Jaguar brand as a whole. And thirdly, lower than hoped for volume on the X-type has put added pressure on Jaguar's production economics and manufacturing strategy - fuelling the view that Jaguar has one plant too many given its overall output level. The contrast with Ford's flexible plants in Europe is considerable. And maybe the highish volume S-type was as far downmarket as Jaguar should have gone.

Will the X-type be canned when replacement time comes round? It would have seemed unthinkable until recently, but its cessation would give Jaguar an opportunity to focus where its strength is as well as rejig capacity and what's made where. Could Halewood shut? Well, it has got the next Freelander, so a full shutdown looks unlikely, but ending Jag production there would leave Jag with two assembly plants rather than the present three. Land Rover then perhaps looks a bit plant heavy, but if the plans for new Land Rover models I've been hearing about are true, perhaps Halewood could usefully open up a bit more for Land Rover production anyway...

There again, Halewood is quite modern, so perhaps shifting other Jaguar models there and shutting down one of the Midlands facilities makes sense.


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