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Forthcoming Jaguar XE 'already in demand' with fleets

Date: 14 April 2014   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Contract hire and leasing companies are clamouring for Jaguar's new XE compact sports saloon, due for market release in the summer of next year, to reduce 'massive exposure' to the dominant German premium trio of BMW's 3-series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-class.

That is the claim from Jaguar's sales director Chris Newitt, who said: "The leasing sector desperately wants us to be successful and competitive with the XE to spread the risk fairly across more companies.

"They are massively exposed to the German trio in terms of their fleets and RVs. 

"They want us to come to the party as soon as possible and provide a transfusion of new blood into the corporate sector."

Powered by a new sub-100g/km, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, and a petrol counterpart, the lightweight aluminium-framed XE is being targeted particularly at BMW's sector-leading 3-series.

Newitt explained: "The 3-series provides BMW's heartland and is the rival we must take most volume from. As the challenger against the Germans, it is like entering the playground and punching the big boys on the nose to assert ourselves.

"But we are pragmatic enough to know they will put up stiff resistance. The XE can replicate the appetite created by the XF."

He admitted that the company was proportionally over-investing in the XE campaign, while its second strategic imperative involved user choosers, who Newitt said were "arguably tired of recycling their 3-series, C-class or A4 and A5" and are "champing for something different, something to set them apart."

"These are people who have perhaps graduated from Mondeos, Insignias and Passats, and with [the car's] highly competitive whole-life costs, the next aspirational wave will have an alternative British route to take."

Underpinning the fleet push is a strengthening of the brand's corporate team, which includes three dedicated contract hire managers.

In addition, 28 out of Jaguar's 89 dealerships have been designated as corporate specialists and are now majoring on SMEs and local businesses.

Jaguar believes the fuel-efficient XE will be clean enough not to suffer from the higher CO2 figures that initially hampered its larger XF stablemate, until a 129g/km version was introduced later on.

Newitt said estimating future fleet and retail markets meant forecasters could be held as hostages to sector fortunes, in either direction.

He said that decisions on estate and coupe versions would be taken "at a different time and level from me, while obviously we would love to have them".