Jaguar's global product marketing boss, the former Lexus executive Steven de Ploey, is ready to talk about the future of the company now that it appears to have one. I mean, many doubted Jaguar Cars would survive the last five years, what with the Great Recession and all that.
But here Jaguar is, making money and growing.
Earlier this year, Jaguar widened its range with a new 3.0-litre supercharged engine in several offerings – including the F-Type – while also adding a turbocharged four-cylinder bought from Ford (240 hp), all-wheel-drive on some models and the station wagon-like XF Sportbake not sold in Canada. Jaguar has also added three new R performance models to the range in the past six months.
Meanwhile, he also wants to hammer away at those who keep bringing up quality issues. In J.D. Power and Associates latest United Kingdom customer satisfaction study, Jag finished No. 1, he says. And J.D. Power and Associates most recent Initial Quality Study found Jag rated No. 2 overall. The Jaguar brand is on the right track, he insists.
So why spend millions on a new sports car when the global sports car market amounts to less than 1 per cent of the total new-car market and high-performance sports cars are just a fraction of that number?
We had to, he says. If the Jaguar brand is going to stand for "innovative technology, seductive design and intelligent performance," then a sports car that reflects those core values is a must, he says. Thus, the F-Type.
The car will only be successful if it is seen to be modern yet true to Jaguar's heritage. It must make an emotional connection with wealthy buyers who care about design, performance, handling and the technical details. These buyers are smart and selective and demanding. They set trends, not follow them.
A lot of them are going to buy F-Types, is my prediction.