Jaguar have announced an aggressive strategy to have all of their production vehicles powered by batteries by 2025. The first victim is the new XJ, which has been cancelled under the direction of Jaguar CEO Thierry Bolloré.
The rapid push by manufacturers to own a space that Tesla currently owns and dominates doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, and raises the question yet again of what differentiated value these brands are hoping to deliver to customers.
For Jaguar that appears to be what Bolloré calls “…a dramatically beautiful new portfolio of emotionally engaging designs and pioneering next-generation technologies”. So basically an iPhone. This would suggest they have seemingly arrived at the same conclusion as every other brand struggling with relevance in a battery powered world: design is essentially the only point of difference left. One might suggest that design has and will continue to converge given the strict pedestrian laws and the drive to be evermore aerodynamic in the name of range extension. You could even say that technology is now left to the likes of Apple Car Play and Android Auto while most proprietary software these days is just noise that most customers will never dig into.
Luxury is increasingly coupled with environmental concerns too. Leather is often substituted for recycled materials with new tactile surfaces exploring what luxury might feel like in the future. That’s something no brand can really own.
The only play Jaguar have is the one Thierry Bolloré is making. Be the first or one of the first to go completely electric to market your carbon neutrality and environmental credentials.
But there’s one trick Bolloré has missed, at least at the marketing level. Jaguar has a hugely rich history, with one of the most beautifully designed cars of all time in the e-type. It knows it too, with Jaguar Heritage models coming thick and fast.
However in this most recent announcement there was no talk of leveraging that history with a range of models that truly represent a continuity of that heritage. That’s something Tesla don’t have and won’t have for a very long time and will be an advantage for these established manufacturers. Maybe we’re yet to see Jaguar lay all its cards on the table.
Of course, it’s not just Jaguar, it’s Jaguar-Land Rover. The big brutish luxury SUVs will continue to be big and brutish but now electric powered with the first model available by 2024, just 3 years from now. The line up will eventually consist of six pure electric variants built on a separate architecture to that of Jaguars, but with a longer timeline to 2030 for achieving zero-emissions across all variants.
Land Rover will use a new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) to build electrified internal combustion engines (ICE) and full electric variants while the Electric Modular Architecture (EMA) will be more electric focused.
They are hedging their bets too with investment in hydrogen. The voices for hydrogen get louder by the day and limitations of battery technology (at least today) are becoming more apparent, unable to meet the demands of commercial outfits needing reliable long range fuelling options.
This is all driven by shareholder demands of course as a return to the black is a must with Jaguar aiming to achieve positive cash net-of-debt by 2025.
Good luck Jaguar, it will be interesting to see what you come up with.