Will the XF Save Jaguar?


The Jaguar XF sedan goes on sale in the U.S. on March 1, but unless you put your name on a dealer waiting list by say, yesterday, you may not get one until May.

“It’s the blossom we’ve been waiting to see grow,” one enthusiastic dealer said. Jaguar says reaction to the XF ranges from “thrilling to unbelievable.”

How do you get one? Spokesperson Anne Clinard said it’s up to dealers to begin their own waiting lists, based on how many cars they expect to get from the factory versus the number of customer orders they take, “and all dealers have started taking orders, and some have started their own order bank.”

She said Jaguar and its dealers have reached agreement that “it’s first-come, first-served when it comes to orders taken and orders filled, and there will be no buying your way up the waiting list.”

While demand is high and supply will be limited, dealers don’t know just how limited the supply will be, and Jaguar isn’t saying anything beyond XF sales are expected to be similar to the S-Type it’s replacing. S-Type sales totaled 19,548 units in 2001, its first year, but dropped to a meager 5,875 last year. Sales of about 20,000 would be a good target.

Introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the XF goes on sale next spring at estimated prices of $50,000 to $60,000. 

“The numbers won’t be huge — good volume for Jaguar, but not numbers like the (BMW) 5 Series,” Clinard said.

The success of the XF is vital to Jaguar, which Ford is looking to sell in order to raise dough to fund its North American turnaround.

“The XF represents the whole ball of wax for Jaguar and will determine if Jaguar survives or fails,” said Joe Phillippi, a principal with automotive research and marketing firm AutoTrends. “It’s probably the last shot Jaguar has to sell a car in volume, which is critical to Jaguar.”

Jim Hossack, vice president of AutoPacific, echoes Phillippi.

“XF will determine if Ford is able to sell Jaguar and at what price,” he said, noting that a popular product would attract more and higher bids.

“Some say we need the XF to turn around,” Clinard said. “We say XF is leading our turnaround but is just the first of several models coming with the new look of Jaguar. Rumor is, the next ­generation XJ flagship will follow.”

The XF is a four-door sedan with the look of a sports coupe. About the size of a Lexus ES 350, it will offer a regular 300-hp or supercharged 420-hp, 4.2 liter V-8 with a six-speed automatic. Rather than a shift lever, you’ll change gears by twisting a dial. When the engine starts, the start button will pulsate like a heart and the gear shift dial will lift from the center console as if coming to life. The flush air ducts in the dash will rotate open as if coming to life as well, and if this makes it sound like Freddie Kruger engineered the car, blame Jaguar.

All that trickery and new style seem to be working for Jaguar at this early stage.

More Jaguar XF News (KickingTires)
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