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Jaguar sales DROP by 27 per cent

Sun, 14 Aug 2011

Jaguar's 2012 Range - maybe they'll help recover sales?

It’s become almost an expectation – rising Jaguar sales. It seems that every quarter for the last year or two Jaguar has proclaimed increasing sales. But not now.

Tata has released sales figures for the three months ending 30th June, which reveal that Jaguar’s sales declined by a far from insignificant 27% from a year before. Which does seem an awful lot of lost sales for a car company that has enjoyed a real resurgence in the last couple of years.

Perhaps we should have seen the first rumblings of this back in April, when we reported that Jaguar had increased sales by just 3% in March. Not that there’s anything wrong with a 3% increase in sales – most companies would be very happy with that in the current climate – but it was the background for that increase we should perhaps have looked at more closely.

Jaguar made a big deal in April of sales rises in some markets. China was up 6%, Korea 29%, Russia 70%, Germany 49% and Japan 34%. Unfortunately we didn’t get the starting point for those rises, but we should perhaps have made more of an overall sales increase of just 3% when such big gains in some markets means there must have been almost comparable losses in others.

So why are Jaguar sales suddenly going in to reverse?

Hard to say. We think Jaguar has the best range it’s had in more than a generation, and it has big plans for the future, which look very promising.

It’s finally extending the XF range with a 2.2 diesel offering aimed at business buyers (although it should have expanded XF offerings sooner with an Estate XF and a coupe XF), it has plans to put in to production the C-X75 supercar (which is probably more a vanity project than anything else), and we’re expecting to see a new small Jaguar Roadster – which will probably be called the Jaguar XE – at Frankfurt next month. Which should sell, especially as it will no doubt be marketed with some E-Type gloss attached.

But there must be a reason why Jaguar has lost more than a quarter of its sales in the last three months. As far as we know there have been no production problems. Yes, Land Rover has been gearing up in a big way for the Evoque (and has 18,000 orders in hand and deliveries up in the last quarter by 16%), but that can’t have impacted on Jaguar production.

We did think that maybe the deliveries of the stockpiled Jaguar XJ – which was held up until Jaguar could fix software issues – may have played a part in inflating figures for last year. But even the earliest of the new XJs didn’t start to be delivered until June – 2/3rds of the way through this finacial reporting period – and we know that only 295 XJs were delivered in the UK that month. So we wouldn’t have thought the numbers enough to distort 2010′s sales. Maybe they were?

Could it be the economy? Well, perhaps. But BMW has just posted its best sales figures ever, Mercedes sales are flying along and Audi has had seven record-breaking months on the trot, so it’s hard to blame a lack of buyers in the premium sector.

Are there reliability issues?

There don’t seem to be any huge issues being reported, although both Top Gear and Cars UK had some real problems with early XJs. We had software failures, turbo issues, battery drains and a complete meltdown of the electrics when we went through a puddle.

Top Gear had windscreen wipers fall off on the motorway, wayward trim, electronic meltdown, digital dash fails and ended up calling the XJ “…the most unreliable long termer in 10 years”.

But we had no problems with a subsequent XJ (which had yet more software updates before we got it, although we only had it for four months instead of six) and nor, we believe, did Top Gear, although we don’t know how long Jaguar let them keep their XJ.

In the US there are some vociferous complaints (and rejected cars) over ‘popping’ sunroofs. We didn’t experience that, but the sunroof did creak and groan when there was ice around, as if the XJ was flexing.

There do seem to be some niggles in the US on the XF – more so than we know about in the UK – with a ‘Consumer Reports’ survey calling the XF “…the least reliable car in the upscale/luxury field”. 

We did have an XF Diesel S die on us completely last year after we had it valeted for a photo shoot, but it finally came back to life an hour or so later of its own accord. Jaguar never did tell us what the reason was. Maybe, like all cats, Jaguars are just water averse? But we loved the car and put it down to some over exuberance with the hose pipe. But who knows how reliable it would turn out to be if we had to live with it for more than a week?

As for the XK – the oldest model in Jaguar’s range – we’ve had no problems with cars in for review. The problems of the XK really stem from its ageing platform and compact interior, and the odd bit that looks as though it was made by a Blue Peter apprentice. But it’s a great car, and even if it’s getting old Jaguar has breathed new life in to it with the enormously appealing XKR-S.

But are a pile of niggles – irritating though we’re sure they are for Jaguar owners –  enough to account for a drop of more than a quarter in car sales? Especially when the cars in question are hugely appealing cars for anyone who wants a great-looking driver’s car with soul.

It seems unlikely, unless the niggles are greater than we know. We do know XJ owners who do still have gripes on the software, battery issues and roof popping and there are some very recent stories of Jaguar doing the right thing and taking back particularly recalcitrant cars. Perhaps we ought to dig a bit more on that than we have?

Could the drop in sales be as simple as people hanging back from buying a new car because they know Jaguar are updating their whole range for 2012? Possibly, but it seems too big a drop for that too.

And maybe it’s down to a combination of all the aforementioned facts – and some we haven’t thought of – causing a temporary blip, and Jaguar sales will just bounce back through the roof in the next quarter? We hope so.

Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

(13 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

(16 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

By Cars UK