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US:Jaguar's underperforming X-Type to linger for four more years

Jaguar's underperforming X-Type to linger for four more years as Ford ponders vehicle's future

MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

NEW YORK -- Jaguar Cars is stuck with the underperforming X-Type sedan for four more years, say company sources.

That's bad news for Jaguar dealers. X-Type sales in America, lackluster when it was launched in 2001, sank 19.5 percent last year. Sales are off an additional 36.9 percent through March.

One Jaguar source says the automaker is mulling whether to continue the X-Type in the United States. Jaguar is studying a sport wagon that could match the X-Type's sticker.

The turning point is 2009, when the current X-Type sedan will end. Jaguar and Ford sources say Jaguar could replace it with another nameplate. Or Jaguar could leave the near-luxury segment and concentrate on higher-priced vehicles, says one company source.

Supplier sources confirmed that Jaguar has not contacted them for requests for quotes for an X-Type redesign - typically the first step in the procurement process.

Mark Fields, executive vice president of Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group, said that Jaguar still is pondering the X-Type's future. "We have not started thinking about what to do with the next-generation X-Type," he said in an interview at the New York auto show. "We have some other fish to fry in terms of product planning."

The X-Type's eight-year product cycle, 2001-09, is far longer than most of Jaguar's competitors in the entry-luxury segment. Lexus typically has had a five-year cycle for its ES 330, as has Acura for the TL. BMW has a six-year cycle for the 3 series, but it often has alternated sheet-metal changes and powertrain upgrades every three years to keep things fresh.

Other than the addition of diesel and wagon models in Europe and the wagon in America, Jaguar has made no major changes to the X-Type. Ford and Jaguar insiders say no other major changes are planned.

The X-Type was launched in Europe in spring 2001 and reached the U.S. market in fall 2001. The car has never come close to its stated goal of 100,000 annual global sales. In 2003, the X-Type barely cracked 50,000 units in the United States and western Europe, its two main markets.

Last year, sales in western Europe rose after Jaguar introduced diesel and wagon variants. Although 2004 was the X-Type's best year in western Europe, sales slumped again this year.

Through February, European sales were off 34 percent compared with the same period of 2004.

Worse, U.S. sales have been in a freefall. The X-Type 2.5-liter version was deleted from the U.S. model lineup for the 2005 model year, leaving only the 3.0-liter version.

Robert Sherefkin contributed to this report

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.....
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