A leap forward for the Jaguar

After five decades the E-Type Jag finally has a successor. Tom Bawden reports from the Paris Motor Show

Jaguar Land Rover's chief executive, Ralf Speth, was in jubilant form when he met The Independent at the Paris Motor Show yesterday. Five decades after the launch of the era-defining E-Type sports car in 1961, Jaguar has finally got round to a follow-up: the F-Type.

In the pre-electronic age of motoring, all that mattered was how the car looked, felt and accelerated – and the E-type excelled in every department.

Mindful of the history, Mr Speth said the group had been "determined not to look too hard in the rear-view mirror, to design a car for tomorrow" when creating a successor. "Modern legislation wouldn't allow a copy-and-paste job anyway," he said. "Take passenger protection. Back then it was something nobody thought about – now we have two airbags under the bonnet in case of a crash. We wouldn't be able to use the old emission technology – there were no catalysts then. No navigation systems, no screens."

However, Mr Speth acknowledged the importance of "history and heritage" and is confident that the F-Type is true to the DNA of its predecessor. It will be made at Castle Bromwich, creating 1,000 jobs, and be available from the spring, backed by Jaguar's biggest ever promotional campaign.

But while the F-Type represents a milestone for JLR, it is only one of the developments Mr Speth is working on.

This month Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) launched its new Range Rover, only the third time the brand has been updated since it was introduced as a luxury version of the Land Rover in 1970. It will be the first SUV (sports utility vehicle) to have a lightweight, all-aluminium body. It will be built in Solihull, and is expected to be available early next year. There will be an electric-diesel hybrid version, another first for the group. JLR's parent group, the Indian conglomerate Tata, is investing £370m to prepare the Solihull plant to make the new vehicle.

Elsewhere in the UK, JLR has introduced 24-hour shifts at its Halewood plant on Merseyside to keep up with demand and has plans to open an engine plant in Wolverhampton.

Overseas, Mr Speth is working on a Chinese joint venture with the local firm Chery Automotive, which would see JLR making a new model in Shanghai. Last year, sales to China jumped by 76 per cent to more than 50,000 vehicles, making the country JLR's third biggest market behind the UK and US.

Talk about manufacturing overseas has raised fears of job cuts in the UK, although JLR's growth has added 8,000 jobs at its three British factories in the past two and a half years. The group now employs about 25,000 in the UK.

"We are absolutely committed to the UK," Mr Seth said. "Jobs will not be going to China. But we have to be in China, it is such a massive market, we would really struggle if we were not there."

JLR has begun doing some assembly work in Pune, India, and is in talks to assemble Freelander four-by-fours in Brazil as a step towards full local production in South America's largest economy – although progress has been held up by regulatory concerns.

JLR's health today is a far cry from when Mr Speth, 54, took the top job in February 2010, 18 months after Tata had bought from Ford a company that was barely breaking even. The group reported a record £1.5bn profit for the year to 31 March 2012.

Mr Speth, a German who spent 20 years at BMW and two years as Ford's director of production before joining JLR, has harnessed the changes in the global economy by taking the company upmarket. He has tapped into the growing demand for luxury goods in emerging markets such as China, Russia and India, as their growth creates legions of newly wealthy business people, says the IHS Automotive analyst Ian Fletcher.

JLR has upgraded its models to make them more glamorous, for example by adding chrome and improving engine efficiency, Mr Fletcher says. This has enabled prices to be raised. New models have been introduced: the "baby" Epoque Range Rover, launched just over a year ago, has brought new customers to the brand. The F-Type, meanwhile, is likely to bring in younger, cooler, customers, while the fourth-generation Range Rover continues JLR's quest to produce more glamorous, expensive models.

JLR's recent performance has been remarkable. Having notched up a 35 per cent jump in pre-tax profits in the year to 31 March, the group posted year-on-year increases of 35 per cent in May, 39 per cent in June and 41 per cent in July. However, sales growth slumped to just 13 per cent in August compared to the same month a year earlier, as the Chinese economy slowed and fears about the global economy rose.

The UK market – still JLR's biggest – is stagnant, with Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, cautioning this month that "the economic outlook remains challenging".

Mr Speth shrugged off August's sale growth decline, pointing out that you can't read too much into one month's data, and that sales growth was still in double digits.

Some analysts believe the luxury goods market that JLR occupies is in for a rough ride. The Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said yesterday: "The Chinese have over-consumed premium cars in recent years. Right now, we see a number of risks to sustained high profits from China."

Declaring himself to be "cautiously optimistic", even Mr Speth was forced to concede: "I can't predict the future overall. I can't predict the economy in Europe next week or next month."

With genuine and widespread concerns that the Chinese economy is running out of steam and continuing problems in Europe, JLR's growth looks set to slow in the coming months.

But the group is much better prepared for the slowdown than most of its competitors in the manufacturing sector – and in the long term, its future looks promising.

Looks good, sounds good

The F-type's launch in Paris this week was accompanied by Lana Del Rey, dedicating her new serenade, "Burning Desire", to the car, with even her lipstick matched to the Jaguar's red paintwork. The song, and seven other tracks on her latest album, will be used as the soundtrack to a 15-minute promo directed by Ridley Scott.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?