New boss Jaguar Thierry Bolloré sits down with us to talk about an upmarket push for the British brand.
The future range of all-electric Jaguars has now been decided, and work is ongoing to source or create the architecture that will underpin the reinvented British brand’s models from 2025.
Speaking to Automotive Daily’s exclusive partner Autocar in his first one-on-one interview since joining Jaguar Land Rover last September, boss Thierry Bolloré said that there will be a “family” of more upmarket, luxury Jaguars, positioned where nobody else sits in the market, as part of his Reimagine plan for JLR.
Bolloré pointed to the Range Rover line’s positioning (as a maker of uniquely sized and styled cars priced far above what might be considered its conventional rivals) as the kind of area that Jaguar will sit in, and that the brand won’t seek to create targeted rivals to the likes of Porsche, Bentley or even Aston Martin.
“Look at Range Rover,” said Bolloré. “It’s satisfactory on price and profit levels, and we haven’t yet reached the ceiling. The price is extraordinary, and we have the volumes.”
Range Rover is “unique in its positioning” said Bolloré, adding that the SUV sub-brand is still selling in large volumes.
He explained that the plan for Jaguar is to create “distinct cars with no overlap”. They will be “really modern luxury cars that are the copy of nothing in style or design, the top of technology and refinement, but not looking backwards”.
He continued: “In desire, it’s similar to Range Rover. We enjoy this type of positioning for Range Rover; for Jaguar, we’re not looking for volume, but there’s space where there are more than 2000 customers”.
While Range Rover provides the business model for Jaguar to pursue, its cars won’t be SUVs or crossovers, instead uniquely shaped, lower-slung cars with no direct rivals.
Bolloré explained that JLR chief creative officer Gerry McGovern organised a design contest within the firm’s newly united design team to create inspiration for future Jaguars. The team was split into three, and in just three months, they created designs and models that would normally take 18 months. Bolloré said this produced “incredible creativity” and that the design direction and family of models for Jaguar was now decided.
“The proportions are crucial to get what we want from Jaguar,” said Bolloré. “The platform is a consequence of proportions we’ve decided on. They’re absolutely bespoke.”
To that end, Jaguar is now looking for an all-electric architecture that is “easy to change in size as necessary” and will support its model plans, but it’s yet to decide whether to create its own or source one from a third party.
A “permanently and significantly updated” I-Pace SUV will be the only Jaguar to survive into the new generation of models due from 2025, but it will be considered separately to the firm’s new-generation cars.
All other Jaguar models will continue to be updated but won’t be replaced at the end of their lives, and the firm’s Castle Bromwich factory will then be repurposed to consolidate various other JLR sites dotted around the English Midlands that already perform the same jobs, such as prototype builds.
Explaining why Jaguar is in need of such a dramatic reinvention, Bolloré said that it’s “damaged”. He added: “The cars have never been as good as in 2021, but the positives of the brand aren’t appreciated compared with the competition.
“Today, when you listen to customers, they see [a Jaguar], like the car and test the car, and they still go and buy an Audi or a BMW. That’s the problem. People buy the originals, then. We aren’t the originals. We have to get the positioning of Jaguar much different, higher and more original.”
On the decision to axe the electric XJ replacement just before launch, Bollore said it was the “toughest decision in the process, absolutely” but that the only thing it had in common with Jaguar’s future was that it was all-electric.