The so-called "British BMW" concept was never going to work.
In a somewhat unexpected announcement last February, Jaguar declared it will become an all-electric carmaker by 2025 as part of newly appointed CEO Thierry Bollore's bold "Reimagine" plan. The company had been developing a purely battery-electric next-generation XJ sedan but Bollore canceled it at a late stage after realizing that it wouldn't be profitable. None of Jaguar's current sedans are, electrified or not. Bollore has initiated a series of major cost-cutting measures to restore profitability by 2024, but it'll all come at a price: the so-called "British BMW" dream is over.
Automotive News spoke to a former Jaguar Land Rover employee, who, under anonymity, said that the company's previous approach was a huge mistake.
"If you think you can compete with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class or Audi A4 with sales of 700,000 a year, you can't. You are chasing a runaway train," they said. By attempting to chase the Germans, this individual said, JLR "overcomplicated the palette" because it launched Jaguars that internally competed against Land Rovers.
The Jaguar F-Pace versus the Land Rover Velar is just one example. Both luxury compact crossover SUVs share a platform and lots of other components. Jaguar will instead become more exclusive whereas Land Rover will be the volume brand. Part of this strategy involves Jaguar having its own bespoke platform for new EVs that'll compete directly against Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Some industry analysts are not convinced Jaguar requires its own unique EV architecture, which Bollore claims will help give Jaguar the exclusivity factor.
One reason being floated is the potential sale of Jaguar at a later date, but that's purely speculation. But for the next few years, Land Rover needs Jaguar for one critical reason: emissions standards. Land Rover can't achieve strict new standards on its own with a lineup consisting only of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid SUVs. Jaguar's switch to an all-EV lineup in four years' time gives Land Rover significant breathing room.
By 2030, JLR believes at least 40 percent of its lineup (meaning Land Rovers) will still have a combustion engine. Jaguar will never become the BMW rival previous CEO Ralf Speth once dreamed of, but it now has the opportunity to reinvent itself for a new electrification era.