(Bloomberg) — Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle
Operations unit may create distinct cars instead of just
modifying existing ones to build a following among consumers
seeking a high-performance alternative to BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz.
“We’re certainly looking at that, and we’ve got the
capability to do that,” said John Edwards, head of the Whitley,
England-based company’s performance unit. “Is there an
opportunity for us to do a completely stand-alone car? Maybe.”
Jaguar, which has been adding new vehicles to broaden its
reach in the market, would be following in the footsteps of
Daimler AG’s Mercedes if it commissions sporty models from the
high-performance division it founded last year. The German
company’s AMG unit has produced two: the SLS and the new GT,
which replaced the gull-wing sports car last year as the top
pure-performance model in the Mercedes lineup.
Like Jaguar’s SVR project, in which the R stands for
“race,” Mercedes AMG, BMW AG’s M and Volkswagen AG’s Audi RS
also make performance versions of their brands’ regular cars,
with more powerful engines, sporty design elements and track-tuned suspensions — and higher price tags. The strategy makes
sense for nameplates rooted in the racetracks of more than a
half-century ago, said Peter Fuss, a partner at consulting
company Ernst Young’s German unit.
“It’s part of their genes,” Fuss said. “The rise in AMG
sales shows it’s been a good way to attract buyers happy to
spend that little bit extra.”
Mercedes AMG sold 47,500 autos last year, more than
doubling deliveries since 2011. That was about 2.9 percent of
Mercedes’s total sales of 1.65 million cars, a small but
The high-performance AMG version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, for instance, comes with a 550-horsepower engine
and costs $93,600, 81 percent more than the 195-horsepower base
version, while the $222,000, 621-horsepower S65 AMG costs more
than double the basic S-Class sedan. The M variant of the BMW 3-Series has more than double the horsepower and, at $62,000,
costs 60 percent more.
Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t disclose deliveries of individual
business units. The performance division will probably never
contribute more than 10 percent of the carmaker’s sales, Edwards
said in a March 3 interview. Itself a luxury unit of India’s
Tata Motors Ltd., Jaguar Land Rover wants to boost its
deliveries this year to more than 500,000 vehicles.
Still, it’s an opportunity to “stretch the Jaguar Land
Rover brand,” Edwards said.
The high-performance and custom cars division started
selling Jaguar’s priciest-ever sport-utility vehicle last month.
The big, modified Range Rover Sport SVR costs 93,450 pounds
($142,500) and accelerates faster than the two-seat Porsche
Boxster or Cayman.
Jaguar also put the new unit in charge of vehicle
customization and heritage.
Options for putting one’s own stamp on a vehicle will be
similar to what Ferrari and Rolls-Royce buyers are used to,
Edwards said. Customization “is a huge area for our Range Rover
customers,” he said. Customers often spend an extra 25,000
pounds for one-of-a-kind features like matching the color to a
handbag or another car, embroidering a crest on the interior or
customizing the wood on the doors or dashboard.
The division is also building the Project 7 variant of the
Jaguar F-Type. Capped at 250 vehicles, it will have the quickest
acceleration of any Jaguar. And this month, it finished the
first of six hand-built versions of the classic Lightweight E-Type. Even at more than 1 million pounds apiece, they’ve already
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Naomi Kresge, Tom Lavell