March 28, 2003
Jaguar weighs aluminum options on future models including replacement XK
By BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe
SEVILLE, Spain - The replacement version of the Jaguar XK sports car will likely be made of aluminum, says a source in the company.
David Scholes, program director for Jaguar's aluminum XJ sedan and a proponent of aluminum use within the company, declines to say whether the decision has been made. But he indicates that Jaguar is going strongly in that direction.
"Ideally we'd like to have another year to absorb the lessons we've learned on the XJ," he says. "But we probably won't have that luxury."
The XK replacement is due sometime during the second half of 2005.
Mike Beasley, outgoing Jaguar managing director, says the major debate over the use of aluminum at Jaguar would come on the next new model after the XK.
"The area where the jury is really out is the S-Type," he says.
Jaguar is part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, and aluminum will likely feature prominently in other luxury vehicles from the division, Scholes says.
Land Rover models such as the Range Rover could one day be made of aluminum, Scholes says. Ford, which also owns Land Rover, is putting the British SUV specialist together with Jaguar in one organization within PAG.
Jaguar decided to make the new XJ out of aluminum in order to save weight. The weight savings allowed the company to reintroduce the Jaguar XJ6, powered by a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine - the first six-cylinder in Jaguar's flagship car since 1997.
The introduction of the aluminum XJ has been costly.
Ford COO Nick Scheele told reporters last year that Jaguar would lose $500 million for 2002, due to delays in getting the body shop running in Castle Bromwich, England.
But Jaguar believes the benefits will be worth it.
The new car is as much as 440 pounds lighter than the old version, even though it is taller, longer and wider.
Scholes says unknown factors still will play a role in decisions about aluminum, such as the price of the lightweight metal and the aggressiveness of the steel industry in meeting the aluminum challenge.
Metals spring back when stamped, and Beasley says Jaguar had a lot to learn about the behavior of aluminum during stamping.
"None of us had good enough simulations to know how aluminum would perform in the stamping die," Beasley says."It's likely big cars will be made of aluminum."
But he says the cost effectiveness of the metal still has to be proven in smaller cars such as Audi's A2.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....