The new XE sedan Jaguar Land Rover announced at the Geneva Motor Show today may not seem remarkable, but it’s crucial to the brand’s future in the American market.
Automakers who sell cars in the U.S. are subject to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which require their cars to average out to certain levels of efficiency.
That’s easier for big companies: GM can prioritise performance in the new Corvette and balance that out by focusing on fuel consumption in its low-end vehicles.
But Jaguar Land Rover makes only high-end cars, and doesn’t have the luxury to compromise on any of them.
In a January interview at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, we asked Group Sales Operations Director Andy Goss how the company plans to hit the CAFE standards while keeping its products top of the line.
“We know where we need to get to,” he said. “We’ll not rule anything out.” Hybrids and electrics are in consideration, and Jaguar recently announced a new engine manufacturing center will a new family of low emission four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines.
But it’s “not just a question of powertrain,” Goss said. “We’re very expert in aluminium.”
Enter the Jaguar XE.
The compact sedan, set to roll out in 2015, will be built on an aluminium — instead of the standard steel — monocoque body, the first in its class, according to Jaguar.
That will make it lighter, so a smaller engine can yield the terrific performance expected by Jaguar customers. It will help in Europe as well, which has its own strict fuel economy rules.
Problem (partly) solved.
Here’s the aluminium monocoque: