AROnline reckons that some of Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR’s) PR people may well have been watching Episode 1 of Five’s new American science fiction drama series FlashForward last Monday evening because Autocar.co.uk has today published two articles by Julian Rendell giving FlashForward-like glimpses of Jaguar’s Future Product Programme. JLR’s take on FlashForward has, though, clearly been prompted by a desire to counter some of the bullish comments made by the likes of Unite’s Dave Osborne in response to last week’s announcement of JLR’s new Business Plan.
However, although the representatives of the Trades Unions with members at JLR’s Castle Bromwich and Solihull plants have understandable concerns about the news that one of the two plants will close after 2014, commercial logic suggests that the adoption of such a strategy will be vital to JLR’s long-term survival. Indeed, Autocar.co.uk’s Julian Rendell made precisely that point in his “Why Jaguar’s plant closure was inevitable” blog dated the 24th September, 2009.
Interestingly, Rendell reckons that the Solihull plant will be the one chosen for closure – JLR owns 300 acres of farmland adjacent to the plant and, as he points out, “you can build an awful lot of houses on 300 acres of prime development land.”
Interestingly, Rendell reckons that the Solihull plant will be the one chosen for closure – JLR owns 300 acres of farmland adjacent to the plant and, as he points out, “you can build an awful lot of houses on 300 acres of prime development land.” However, whilst that will probably not be the only factor in the decision-making process, the aluminium manufacturing capacity at Castle Bromwich and Land Rover’s reportedly persistent quality issues might well also weigh against Solihull’s survival.
Autocar’s Rendell, who appears to have an extensive network of informed sources at JLR, has now been able to disclose details of two new Jaguar models which are, in all probability, intended for production at Castle Bromwich and which give credence to his contention that Land Rover’s Solihull plant will be the one to close in five or six years’ time.
Rendell provides an informative insight into the current debate within Jaguar about the frontal styling of the BMW Z4-sized front-engined, rear-driven Jaguar XE and the market positioning of the next-generation XK coupé and convertible in his “New Jaguar XE: more details” story. However, in his “Jaguar hatch to launch in 2014” article, Rendell also reveals that the company plans to launch a compact five-door sports hatch, featuring lightweight alloy bodywork and new direct-injection petrol engines, as a £40k entry-level model during 2014.
There’s a growing feeling with the R-D6 that we really had something very innovative, fresh and different. Maybe we missed something back then, but the idea is even more applicable now.” A Jaguar insider
The new sports hatch has been inspired by Jaguar’s R-D6 Concept which was first displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. Rendell quotes one source as saying: “There’s a growing feeling with the R-D6 that we really had something very innovative, fresh and different. Maybe we missed something back then, but the idea is even more applicable now.” Indeed, another Jaguar insider already refers to the new sports hatch as the ‘R-D7’… Rendell suggests that the ‘R-D7’ will be around 4.3m in length, have a wheelbase about 70mm shorter than that of the current Jaguar XF and be powered by an all-new V6 engine with a 60-degree block and capacities ranging from 3.0 to 3.5 litres in addition to the new four-cylinder diesel engine which should be introduced in late 2011.
AROnline believes JLR’s apparent readiness to release details of ‘Project R-D7’ to Autocar on an unofficial basis does, at least, show that the companies’ owner, Tata Motors Limited, fully understands how such disclosures can improve the British public’s image of the relevant companies. A pity, then, that MG Motor UK Limited’s parent company, SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, has still, apparently, to appreciate the benefits of giving MG enthusiasts their own FlashForward-type snapshot of the marque’s future…
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