Auto blogWed, 26 Feb 2014 19:00:00 EST
Of all the tuners this side of AMG, none are as close to Mercedes-Benz as Brabus. After all, when Daimler needed a tuner to spruce up the Smart car, it was Brabus that it turned to. But Brabus tunes vehicles other than Mercedes - it just uses, let's call it, a pen name. It brands them Startech, like the widebody kit it's developed for the new Range Rover Sport and will present at the Geneva Motor Show next week.
The modifications center around the carbon fiber body panels Brabus (excuse us, Startech) has developed for the British sport-ute that give it over two inches of added width. The wider fender flares encompass 23-inch wheels that are forged, ceramic-coated, skinned with low-profile rubber and fitted to a lowered suspension. The front and rear bumpers have been redone in plastic and can be fitted with or without the wider fenders, and there's a three-piece roof spoiler at the back.
Startech is also offering an upgrade for the 3.0-liter twin-turbo-diesel V6 that squeezes out an extra 31 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque for a total of 323 hp and 501 lb-ft, dropping the 0-62 time from 7.2 seconds to 6.9. The German tuner also has a wide array of interior modifications on offer, details of which you can read about in the press release below and scope out in the high-resolution image gallery above.
Thu, 19 Dec 2013 18:02:00 EST
Nearly every major business is collecting consumer data these days, and keeping that data secure has come to the forefront of many customer's minds. Jaguar Land Rover North America's decision to begin requesting more customer info from its dealer network appears unfortunately timed, however. If it had come a few years ago, it might have been ignored, but in today's climate of heightened awareness, a few dealers are pushing back. To put the showrooms in an even tougher position, JLR NA is threatening to deny quarterly incentives if they do not turn over the customer data, according to Automotive News.
JLR NA instated the nationwide plan, which it calls Single View CRM, on February 7, but according to Stuart Schorr, Jaguar Land Rover North America Vice President of Communications, the automaker has been negotiating with its dealers to institute the new program for over a year. Schorr tells Autoblog that no financial information is being shared, noting that such data is limited to customer details, including things like what vehicles they own and whether they have any pending service. The initiative is meant to "improve customers' and owners' engagement with the brand," he said. Also, the company is not accessing dealer data itself; instead showrooms are asked to enter the info into JLR's database.
Jaguar Land Rover North America has appointed a new president, Joachim Eberhardt. The German exec, 50, had previously done stints at Chrysler Group, DaimlerChrysler UK, Mercedes-Benz USA and Daimler-Benz.
Eberhardt joins JLR NA in a good, but challenging time for the company. It's fresh off the launch of the Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Type, which have been subject to rave reviews, and its overall sales are up 21 percent over 2012. Still, as Automotive News points out, the two manufacturers face a fight to become the equal of A-list competitors like BMW and Mercedes in the eyes of consumers.
"Joe brings a proven industry track record and valuable global leadership experience in luxury sales, service and marketing. We look forward to Joe leading our North American team in working with our retail networks to further grow the business and better serve our customers," JLR's group sales operations director, Andy Goss, said.
Jaguar-Land Rover is not what you'd call a volume automaker by any stretch of the imagination. But in the dozen years since it started manufacturing at its Halewood plant near Liverpool, England, the automaker has already built its millionth vehicle.
The landmark vehicle is a Range Rover Evoque, done up in white with red roof and mirrors, black wheels and a red and black interior. The crossover is set to be donated to Cancer Research UK, which will auction it off next year to help fund its projects in the north-west of the country.
Halewood started manufacturing the Jaguar X-Type in 2001, then went on to assemble the Land Rover LR2 / Freelander 2 before taking on production of the Evoque a year and a half ago. The facility reached the 300,000-unit milestone just last year as production moved to a 24-hour cycle for the first time in either marque's history.
The upcoming line of compact 3 Series-fighters from Jaguar, often referred to as the Jaguar XS, could consist of a sedan, wagon and possibly a coupe and GT model (think BMW 5 Series GT). The car's all-aluminum architecture also will provide the basis for two new sports utility vehicles. Just how important is the much-touted "baby Jag" project to parent company Jaguar Land Rover? A JLR executive reportedly says the brand's survival is directly linked to the success of the XS, codenamed X760, Autocar reports.
The brand's survival is directly linked to the success of the XS.
"If the X760 fails, it will probably be the end for the [Jaguar] brand," the executive says. But Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's global brand director, claims Jaguar will "build the most advanced, most efficient, most refined car in that [compact luxury sedan] segment. Not almost as good as, but better than the best in the world."
Brazil is the place to be, apparently. Toyota has been investing in the South American country, as has BMW, which announced a $261 million investment in October 2012, on the heels of an Audi factory announcement in San José Chiapa. The high-end immigration is only set to continue, as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar-Land Rover have both announced plans to set up manufacturing operations there.
Mercedes is the big news here, as its new facility will see the German manufacturer invest 170-million euros for production of its next-generation C-Class and upcoming GLA-Class. "Brazil is an important future market. With our local production we accept the challenge and take on the competition," noted Andreas Renschler, Management Board member for Production and Procurement at Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans. Production is expected to begin by 2016.
Jaguar-Land Rover, meanwhile, isn't so concrete in its plans. The news of its investment in South America comes from a job posting for a plant quality manager in Brazil that was picked up by the UK's AutoCar. "Portuguese language skills will be definite advantage" for interested candidates, according to the job listing. The want ad follows on the heels of remarks by Jaguar Land Rover's Dr. Ralph Speth, who said there are "very intensive discussions" with Brazil's government. Unlike Mercedes, there's no mention of which vehicles will be produced in South America, although AutoCar thinks the Freelander, sold in the US as the LR2, is a leading contender.
The success of Jaguar Land Rover in recent years has largely been down to a resurgent product lineup, but a recent move into the research and development will see the British-based, Indian-owned brands take the fight to its German rivals more aggressively than ever before.
JLR is investing 50 million pounds ($80,345,000, as of this writing) in a joint R&D center in central England. The move will more than triple its staff dedicated to research, from 150 to 500, with Wolfgang Epple, JLR's Director of Research and Technology telling Automotive News Europe, "In order to play among the big animals in automotive and to be anchored in the mind of customers you have to have offered something unique, to be first in market. We want to be one of the key premier automotive manufacturers."
Jaguar Land Rover's 50-million-pound contribution represents more than half of the 94-million-pound tab, on the so-called National Automotive Innovation Campus. Based at Warwick University, Tata's European Technical Center, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the Higher Education Funding Council, an agency of the British government, are all chipping in for the facility.
Jaguar's long-rumored crossover won't be built on the same platform as the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, says the Australian site Car Advice. The future of the new CUV remains uncertain, but if Jaguar does dip its toes into the SUV/crossover pool, though, the new vehicle will likely be a car-based soft roader, lacking (or perhaps more appropriately, not needing) the off-road-engineered chops inherent in Land Rover's small CUV platform.
Jaguar product planner Steven De Ploey explained to Car Advice, "There's many groups around the world [platform sharing] - obviously Volkswagen Group is doing it all the time - but I think we have to be careful. He added, "Jaguar is something quite different... It's about capability, but very much on-road focused capability." That seems to gel with our suspicions that the XQ, as it's expected to be called, will share its platform with an upcoming small Jaguar sedan, the oft-rumored X-Type successor.
Still, we'd recommend taking any mention of a Jaguar crossover with a grain of salt. Based on many of the (quite compelling) statements made by De Ploey against a Jag crossover and previous statements made by Jag's design boss, Ian Callum, the case against a leaper-bearing crossover seems strong. If a high-rider were to arrive from Jaguar, though, the article insinuates that it'd be more in line with the BMW X6 or upcoming X4 - sort of a coupe-based crossover. Like we said, grain of salt. If a Jag crossover is going to arrive soon, the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show is the most likely locale for its debut. We'll find out in a few weeks.
Was it right for Chevrolet to detune the 1975 Corvette's base engine to 165 horsepower? Was Aston Martin wrong to make the Toyota iQ-based Cygnet? Is BMW crazy to be testing the new 1 Series with three-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive? It seems now, just as in the 1970s and 1980s, that emissions regulations and social considerations are driving some automakers to adopt unbefitting practices to maintain acceptance in the eyes of governments and consumers. Jaguar has jumped on the bandwagon, and is considering development of small, frugal, front-wheel-drive cars to help lower Jaguar Land Rover's average vehicle CO2 levels in light of tightening European emissions regulations, Autocar reports.
By 2020, the European Union expects the model range of every manufacturer to average 95 grams per kilometer, which is a new law passed by the European Parliament in April. Manufacturers who make more than 300,000 vehicles per year must meet these targets, and JLR is expected to be producing up to 700,000 vehicles per year by then. CO2 regulations after 2020 will only get stricter, as EU politicians already are talking about lowering CO2 levels to between 68 g/km and 78 g/km. (To put that in perspective, Autocar posits that driving a fully charged electric vehicle in Europe produces about 75 g/km when factoring in the power-generation infrastructure.)
Jaguar has some choices here, but so far they all have drawbacks. It could develop a new, compact chassis architecture for a line of compact vehicles, but the investment required for such a project could be prohibitively expensive. Jaguar has been looking into using the Land Rover Evoque platform for a small SUV, Autocar reports, but Land Rover brand manager John Edwards raises issue with such a plan, saying it may not be financially feasible.
Jaguar has announced that Jeff Curry will be serving as the brand's new North American vice president, effective August 13. The move is a coup for Jag, which lured Curry away from his previous posting as VP of marketing for Ferrari North America, and is further evidence of just how strong Jaguar's comeback has gotten.
Curry has spent over 20 years in the auto industry, and has worked with Audi, SiriusXM and Land Rover, where he made his start in the industry. His primary responsibilities with Jaguar will cover marketing communications, customer relationship management, and product planning.
Jaguar Land Rover's North American president, Andy Goss, heaped praise on the brand's newest addition saying, "Jeff brings with him extensive automotive and luxury marketing experience, critical expertise in leading-edge technologies and a personal passion for automobiles."