Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jaguar To Introduce AWD, New Powertrains

Jaguar XF

Just the Facts:
  • A range of new powertrains is to debut "within two years."
  • Jaguar will move away from being a "V8 brand."
  • Jaguar is testing prototypes of XF and XJ models with four-wheel drive.

LOS ANGELES — Jaguar is developing four-wheel drive for the XF and XJ sedans and a new range of powertrains as it seeks to increase its footprint in the U.S. market.

"We are seen as a V8 brand in the U.S.," says Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark, "but the U.S. is downsizing and we need to respond. Within the next two years we will have new engines, V6s and smaller."

The British company is known to be targeting smaller, four-cylinder turbo engines as it begins work on a successor to the unloved X-Type. Sister company Land Rover already offers a Ford-sourced 2.0-liter turbo in the new Range Rover Evoque. The introduction of diesel engines in the U.S. also remains a strong possibly. Two eco-driving experts recently drove a U.K.-spec XF 2.2 diesel 2,884 miles across the U.S., averaging 55.8 mpg for a PR stunt.

Hybrid powertrains are also in development for both Jaguar and Land Rover products, but Hallmark says this is not a key priority. "They are a very expensive solution and customers are not willing to pay for it." In the short term, Jaguar is likely to focus on using hybrid tech for performance gains. "It makes sense in the C-X16."

More of a priority is four-wheel drive for the XF and XJ. Hallmark makes no secret of his frustration that Jaguar is struggling to compete in the U.S. snowbelt, where four-wheel-drive cars account for 70 percent of sales in the XF class. Prototypes are already testing, and he says Jaguar "is in very intensive discussions to find a solution." These models would boost Jaguar's appeal in the short term, while the company continues work on a crossover.

Coupled with the introduction of these new variants will be a significant marketing push. "The Jaguar brand is famous in the U.S.," says Hallmark, "but people are not so familiar with the current range. We need to communicate what we've got."

Source: Inside Line

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