The “Jag” is one of those mythical beasts that, like unicorns, capture some of our fancies even if, deep down, we know we’ll never have a close personal relationship with one. And so it is, I’m sure, that I’m not the only one captivated by the president of Jaguar Land Rover North America’s tellingUSA Today’s James R. Healey: "We've pressed the reset button on Jaguar. We're trying to dismantle the brand and rebuild it."
Among other things, it is introducing a jaunty two-seater at the Paris auto show next month that prexy Andy Goss hopes will be an “emotional fulcrum” for the brand. It will be “the brand's first proper sports car since the famous XKE that defined Jag in the 1960s and 1970s,” Healey writes.
On the conscientious-fulcrum level, the company is adding all-wheel drive and improving fuel efficiency with supercharged V-6 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines.
“It's hard to imagine a Jag buyer shelling out $60,000 or more and worrying about fuel prices,” writes Healey, “but Jaguar says buyers have to appear to friends and neighbors to be concerned about making smart, rather than indulgent, choices.”
Appearances are indeed important, as Mother used to remind us, and the brand is trying to make do with a limited marketing budget by making the most of them. That, perhaps, explains why Stuart Schorr, vp for communications for Jaguar Land Rover North America, was standing in the middle of a huge geodesic snow globe in Manhattan yesterday. A gleaming red 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 All Wheel Drive vehicle gathered flakes in a simulated mid-August flurry as Schorr reeled off luxury sedan market share figures to the assembled press, including the New York Times’ Jonathan Schultz.
David Pryor, brand vp for Jaguar North America, meanwhile, chatted about monied competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus and his own brand’s social-media campaign during the fifth season of “Mad Men.”
“We don’t have their marketing budgets, so we’ve got to be disruptive,” he tells us. “We have to use our size to our advantage.”
Figure skater Johnny Weir and “30 Rock” stars Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan were part of the simulated winter carnival -- dubbed “Chill NY” -- yesterday. Although celebrity-gawking opportunities are over, the event will continue through tomorrow at Chelsea’s High Line Park, where the public can ice skate and indulge in regular- and offbeat-people gawking.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is getting ready this morning for a party co-hosted by Playboy at Pebble Beach. No snow is in the forecast but an “invitation-only cocktail party” will “show off the 2013 XJL Ultimate and the brand lifestyle to a group of select consumers,” Tricia Carr reports in Luxury Daily.
“Owners of Jaguar cars like an upscale, but relaxed and fun environment,” Schorr tells Carr. “Playboy reaches an obviously male target, but it also represents a fun, sexy lifestyle that aligns with our view of a great evening.”
Why the flurry of activity?
“This is probably the most important nine months for this company in a decade,” Goss tellsBloomberg Businessweek’s Tim Higgins in a phone interview. He also goes into some detail about the four-wheel-drive push, which presumably also improves traction in the sand.
“Eighty-two percent of the volume in the Snow Belt states is all-wheel-drive from our competitors,” Goss says. “We’ve been fishing well in a very small and decreasing pond and now we’ve got the opportunity to compete more appropriately head-on with some of the German brands.”
Mumbai-based Tata now owns both Jaguar and Land Rover but they are still designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, as its website assures us. Laugh not. That may be a product benefit.
“Nowadays, it seems people everywhere want to own a UK-made car,” reads the hed over a post by Plastics & Rubber Weekly’s Hamish Champ this morning. “The appeal of UK-made motor cars has particularly increased in the hearts and minds of overseas buyers,” Champ elaborates, “for whom some of this country’s leading marques will always be top of their shopping list.” He cites the success of Jaguar Land Rover’s Evoque in Europe and the U.S. and says the Chinese are “lapping them up” to the tune of 5,000 sales in three months.
Tata acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford four years ago for $2.3 billion. It announced yesterday that global sales has risen 21% in July, Business Todayreports, with sales of luxury brands from Jaguar Land Rover up 41% from the same month last year.