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The Jaguar XF Sportbrake only just got here, hauling its first load of mettwurst and Coca-Cola to a junior varsity soccer tailgate party in 2017. According to a report in The Detroit Bureau, the comely wagon could be on the way out later this year thanks to two massive turnaround campaigns. The outlet interviewed Jaguar USA CEO Joe Eberhardt, who conveyed the message that only the strongest products will live. That means no more manual transmissions after this year, simplified trims, and easing up on diesels. It also means, in TDB's words, "you'll no longer see wagons ... in the U.S."
If this ends up true, it would be a shame. Wagon sales were up 29 percent in the U.S. last year. We just included the XF Sportbrake as one of the potential reasons Audi teased its Twitter fans about the return of Avants. And if there's anyone who doesn't like the XF Sportbrake, we haven't met them. Our review said the slinky wagon "Puts SUV appeal on ice." Jalopnik called it "The best-kept sleeper wagon secret you can buy." Road & Track labeled it "A high five to America."
High fives and good secrets don't pay the rent, though. The push for global sustainability after last year's shocking Q4 loss at Jaguar Land Rover has compelled two turnaround campaigns called "Charge" and "Accelerate." One focuses on immediate cost matters, the other takes the long strategic view. Both need to incorporate the fact that Jaguar's crossovers, the F-Pace and E-Pace, represent 70 percent of Jaguar sales.
On that matter, Eberhardt said, "I don't want to say the speed of change took us by surprise, but they were too quick for us to react to immediately. It takes time to transform ourselves to the point we can be profitable again." If consumer tastes seen through the looking glass give the hint they'll push beyond 70 percent, Eberhardt said, "We have to ask (which products) make sense anymore."
That subtext of that question is, "Which sedans and sports cars make sense anymore?" Jaguar's cars could elicit as many questions in the press as they do in the corporate offices. Will the whole brand go electric? Will there be another F-Type? What about that reborn XK? And whatever is going to happen, when will it happen?
Answers are brewing, but even Jaguar might not know yet what they are. Said Eberhardt, "The good news is that we have the product. The question now is how we react on the downside with cars that are not in demand."