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Ford to go Oldsmobile on Jaguar?

Jaguar must “find a way to fund its own future or face the consequences."

That’s what Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford, Jr. told journalists in Detroit about Ford's “Big Cat." And the consequences? While the article didn’t state if Ford, Jr. was asked that question, a high level director did answer and said Blue Oval may put the luxury marque into “exit mode," either shutting it down or selling it.

Ford purchased Jaguar in 1989, and the brand is part of Ford’s Premier Auto Group (PAG) which includes Aston Martin and Volvo. But Jaguar’s S-Type, X-Type, and XJ sedans are among the lowest selling vehicles in PAG. Ford hasn't given up on the band just yet, having infused $2.1 billion last year after the brand lost $745 million in 2004.

Newly appointed Ford of Europe chairman Lewis Booth has thus embarked on an ambitious plan to preserve the Big Cat's remaining lives. Besides touting the new XK coupe (pictured) and convertible, Jaguar is planning to sell fewer but well-equipped vehicles, making Jags more exclusive. This is similar to Porsche, whose vehicles make the highest profit per each one sold.

Other changes include updating Jaguar’s manufacturing facilities and modernizing its models’ sheet-metal.

With Jaguar's rich heritage and evocative design language, it's been frustrating for company officials and marque afficianados to see the Big Cat falter so badly for so many years. It is hard to see the Blue Oval shuttering the brand, but we wouldn't rule out Dearborn eventually seeking out a suitor if the latest capital infusion fails.

[Source: The Sydney Morning Herald]

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