By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland is recruiting more workers at Jaguar, Coventry, with the intention of doubling the output of the XJ12 within the next few weeks. Already labelled “the car you cannot buy” the XJ12 and its sister, the Daimler Six are coming off the assembly line at the rate of only 120 a week: So great is the demand for the world’s only mass-produced 12-cylinder car that even when production tops 200 a week it will be late 1974 before present orders are filled.
Why then has the company just mounted a big advertising campaign, including whole pages in national newspapers which feature the XJ12? Why remind frustrated customers that the car is offered secondhand at auction for £5200 against a recommended retail price of £3725?
Jaguar’s answer is: “We do not advertise often but, when we do, it is for impact, to keep the name of Jaguar in the public eye.”
But Jaguar’s competitors have another explanation. They suggest Jaguar, as in the case of the earlier XJ6 is doing its utmost to foster the unobtainable” image. One importer of de luxe foreign saloons said: “It is the best sale gimmick in the world. Tell someone he cannot have a particular product and he will move heaven and earth to prove you wrong.”
British Leyland has been much criticized over the years for its pricing policy at Jaguar. When the XJ6 was changing hands at £1000 over list price, the company was attacked for not setting a higher and more realistic price. Now several years later the process is being repeated with another model. Surely at a time when British Leyland need £53m to finance a modernization and expansion programme for their specialist car division, they could have asked £4500 for the trend-setting 12 cylinder?
The official answer is: “When we are deciding on the price of a car we have to think well ahead. The fatal mistake is to price too high initially and then have to reduce prices later. People immediately suspect that something is wrong with the car.”
BLMC sells gas turbine business to Lucas offshoot
British Leyland Motor Corporation has sold its Rover gaturbine business to Lucas Aerospace, a subsidiary of Joseph Lucas (Industries). Most of the gas turbines are sold to the aircraft industry and many of its small gas turbines drive Lucas equipinent. Lucas will continue to provide the service and customer liaison British Leyland said the sale does not affect its gas turbine power unit for commercial vehicles.