Jaguar Land Rover’s new boss could slash the car-maker’s product range — even ditching its forthcoming electric XJ saloon, according to The Sunday Times.
Former Renault chief executive Thierry Bolloré is believed to be mulling deep cuts to its line-up, with up to six current and planned models facing the axe.
Bolloré, who replaced Sir Ralf Speth last month, is grappling with an array of issues at Britain’s biggest car-maker, from the economic slump to a confused mix of similar models. He also inherited a range of poor-selling Jaguar saloons.
Sources said Bolloré had two to three months to make a decision on whether to continue with the electric XJ or pursue a fundamental shake-up of the Jaguar brand.
He is understood to have raised concerns about persistent losses at Jaguar, which have been subsidised with profits from Land Rover.
Jaguar’s flagship XJ was launched in 1968 and an armoured version is used by the prime minister. A new, battery-powered model had been due to roll off production lines at its Castle Bromwich factory in the West Midlands early next year, but that was delayed by the pandemic until next October.
Bolloré is understood to be considering halting the XJ, despite JLR and its suppliers having spent tens of millions of pounds on tooling for the new car. It has limited sales prospects, with Jaguar hoping to sell 38,000 a year. Bolloré, 57, is considering ditching two more models — a Range Rover and a Jaguar SUV — that were due to be built on the same platform, or skeleton.
Also at risk are its Jaguar XE and XF saloons, sales of which have disappointed, and its Discovery Sport SUV, with similar characteristics to a number of its other SUVs. That raises questions over JLR’s Castle Bromwich and Halewood plants.
Model cuts would be a significant diversion from Speth’s strategy. The Bavarian was hired by Tata to turn round Jaguar after the Indian conglomerate bought the car-maker from Ford for £1.1bn in 2008.
Speth steered it to record profits and sales, set a target of selling one million cars a year, and tried to take on the German giants. However, issues ranging from slumping sales in China to the US-China trade war sent it crashing to heavy losses and forced deep job cuts.
Bolloré is believed to be keen to move Jaguar more upmarket to take on Tesla. He is also understood to have raised concerns about the pace of electrification at JLR, and expressed surprise about the prospect of no all-electric Range Rover any time soon. JLR said it “does not comment on speculation from anonymous sources about our business”.
Plan to revive Flybe
One of Flybe’s former shareholders is eyeing a bid to revive the collapsed regional airline.
US hedge fund Cyrus Capital is in talks with Flybe’s administrators at EY to acquire some of the assets and launch a new regional carrier, Sky News reported yesterday.
Flybe went bust in March with the loss of 2,000 jobs, less than two months after agreeing a state-backed rescue deal. Its other shareholders included Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.