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Jaguar boss explains how it will double sales with new models

Date: 21 April 2015   |   Author: Guy Bird

The UK MD for Jaguar, Jeremy Hicks, explains how the brand plans to double sales with three desirable new cars that feature strong residual values. Guy Bird reports
UK managing director Jeremy Hicks

UK fleets' feelings towards Jaguar might historically have been summed up as they liked the brand more than they bought their cars, which suggests something in the product range didn't stack up in the real world.

As Jaguar's UK managing director Jeremy Hicks told BusinessCar on the sidelines of the new XF's recent exclusive launch in New York: "The days of the single marque fleet deals are pretty much done, so drivers have more choice. I think there are a lot of company car drivers out there waiting for something new, but you need to be credible, and I don't think there have been many choices before, outside of the big German three." 

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But with the warmly received new 3-series-sized compact executive XE, the forthcoming all-new mk2 XF, plus the large, sporty crossover F-Pace due next year, Jaguar's never had so many fleet-relevant contenders. Its technology has caught up too, with the newly aluminium-intensive XF architecture alongside new in-house engines helping to make the new XF the lightest in class and up to 190kg lighter than the outgoing model.

All of which helps boost official economy as high as 71.7mpg and leave emissions as low as 104g/km CO2. Jaguar's connected new infotainment system, called InControl Touch Pro - the 'Pro' bit puts it above the XE's system - is a big leap forward too.

It can display satnav maps right across the 12.3-inch driver dial area (like the new Audi TT's) and has a customisable 10.2-inch centre touch-screen too that can be pinched and swiped into action with a speedy new Intel graphics processor behind it.

Jaguar recorded 9185 sales to fleet in 2014 (49.9% of its total and up from 7050 fleet sales in 2013). The vast majority of those 2014 units were the XF (7352), so the addition of the XE from May, the second-generation XF in the autumn, and the F-Pace by quarter two of 2016 should allow the UK sales arm to majorly increase business.

As Hicks said: "All our German competitors sell 100,000 cars each in the UK so we've got space to grow. I could easily see a position where we double [retail and therefore potentially also fleet] sales without distressing the market and making unreasonable moves."

Hicks believes 60% of the XE's sales will be to fleet and has earmarked the XF 180hp 2.0 diesel R-sport as the key large saloon model accounting for just over half of all business sales.

This particular XF model has already been quoted by residual value experts Cap at 3% above its nearest BMW (the 520D 190hp M-sport Auto) while the same guide says the XF 2.0d 163hp Prestige Auto will trump the BMW 520D 190hp SE Auto by 8%.

Jaguar reckons 95% of XF sales will be diesel and three quarters of those diesel registrations taken by the 2.0d (between its 163hp and 180hp outputs). There will be a manual gearbox on the XF for the first time, but Hicks thinks sales will only represent 15% compared with 85% for the automatic, in line with the wider large exec market. In terms of how Jaguar's fleet split will break down, Hicks, unsurprisingly, believes contract hire and leasing is key and will represent 90% of such business.

"Very few people outright purchase anymore," he said, "so we're aiming at contract hire companies or JLR Finance via our dealers. To that end, we are placing cars with contract hire companies to place with clients and have more than doubled our demo fleet. We have a 90-strong dealer network and a third are now fleet and business specialists." At least one dedicated demo car and a trained fleet expert will be in each designated outlet added Hicks.

With a competitively priced XF range between £32,300 to £49,950, strong RVs, and satnav and leather standard across the range, Hicks appears confident that Jaguar can finally make the sales inroads its name and prestige previously only threatened. What does he think convinced those notoriously hard-to-please residual experts to rank the new Jaguar so highly among such strong rivals?

"It's the complete package: the lightweight aluminium architecture, the low CO2 and high mpg, and high-tech story, plus the specification," concluded Hicks.  Could the UK's premium company car market be about to become more interesting again?