Friday 9 August 2013

Jaguar readies 4x4 for Frankfurt

Jaguar can wait not a second longer to roll out a 4x4 ‘cross-over’ as it lays plans to unfurl the wraps on a new concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, paving the way for production in 2016.

Jaguar has seen its competitors advance heavily into this territory and clearly wants a slice of the action.

The new arrival could pave the way for yet more diesel sales by the company but whether the new vehicle is fired by one of the Hotfire family of new engines to come from the as-yet unopened Wolverhampton engine plant (WEP) remains to be seen.

It may be powered by the staunch V8 diesel engine made by Ford, though sensibly one might imagine the 4x4 will be engineered from the outset to carry one or more of the Hotfire family of modular engines.

JaguarLandRover (JLR), part of Tata Motors, is riding the crest of the wave at the moment with first quarter pre-tax profits of £415 million, an increase of 25 per cent. In the same period, JLR’s revenues have risen by 13 per cent to £4.1 billion, with retail sales up 10 per cent to 94,719 units.

UK sales rose 13 per cent, while Asia Pacific leapt 37 per cent. Chine crept up 11 per cent, followed by North America at 10 per cent, leaving Europe trailing at a modest three per cent.

All of which allows JLR’s top engineers and managers to jet off to Frankfurt am Maine with more than a spring in their step, sure in the knowledge that their concept 4x4 will attract much attention from around the world.

It is all a far cry from the days when the company was owned by Ford and the shuttered Browns Lane plant in Coventry was set to be followed by Castle Bromwich or A.N.Other plant. Now, the company seemingly cannot build enough vehicles.

Just where the 4x4 crossover however will be built remains to be seen. Some suggest it could be built at Solihull, the hereditary home of 4x4 vehicles in the company, rather than Castle Bromwich which is the home of JLR’s aluminium stamping capacity.

Aluminium is likely to feature in the new 4x4 crossover in order to keep weight within respectable limits. An enhanced pricing structure will allow the on-cost of aluminium to be recouped.

The new vehicle will be aimed at younger, more affluent people – families with children and child-seats. It will form just part of the company’s new and aggressive product development plans which will include a new ‘baby’ Jaguar saloon and a range of small, fuel efficient coupes that will follow in the footsteps of the new F-Type sports car.

But don’t expect a gas turbine to fire any of the new vehicles any time soon. Work on Jaguar’s pioneering gas turbine by Bladon Jets is continuing apace, but the most likely first market for these power units will be generating sets. These will provide technical feed-back which could be useful for the automotive gas turbine hybrid.       

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