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Jaguar takes a leap with price cut, new strategy

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Jaguar was one of the famous automotive props and plotlines in the now-iconic drama Mad Men. There's a scene where the show's protagonist, Don Draper, deftly undercuts an influential Jaguar dealer by indicating that get-me-in-the-door local radio spots would be an effective way to sell cars like the slinky E-Type. The British executives think this is folly – Draper knows they will – and his advertising strategy wins out over the dealer's approach to move the metal.

Jaguar's not doing that, but half a century later in the real world the company is launching plans to make its cars more attainable to new and younger customers like Millenials. These aren't coupons, but this is a leap for Jaguar, which has long banked on sexy styling and its rich motorsports history to overshadow its past mechanical flaws.

Put simply, Jaguar is addressing the reasons why people, especially the younger set, don't buy its cars. The 2017 XE will start at $35,895 when it launches next spring – which makes it an attractive buy for a successful, relatively young person. When it's time to move up, the redesigned XF will be more attainable, coming in at $52,895, which is $5,275 less than the 2015 model. The flagship XJ sedan and the enthusiast-oriented F-Type sports car will also get thousands of dollars worth of added standard features, and Jag is actively pitching them as a better value than their competitors.

"The Jaguar brand is on the eve of a major transformation that will see it dramatically increase its presence in the United States luxury marketplace with an expanded lineup, pricing focused on the core of the luxury market, and an all-new ownership package with best-in-class coverage," Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in a statement.

The brand's quality and reliability dings have also lurked in the back of buyers' minds for decades, though that's an outdated notion. Jaguar placed third in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study in June and was the top-ranked luxury brand in J.D. Power's Customer Service Index in March. Not content, the company is rolling out an enhanced program called Jaguar EliteCare that launches on 2016 models. It offers a five-year, 60,000-mile limited warranty, the longest among its competitors, with free scheduled maintenance during that period. The plan also covers roadside assistance and connectivity features. "All new Jaguar models will be defined by both their design and performance and now, a highly attractive ownership value proposition," Eberhardt said.

Perhaps most important, Jaguar is adding the F-Pace compact crossover to its lineup, which will debut later this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show and enter one of the hottest segments in the industry. A Jaguar crossover would have seemed preposterous even a few years ago, but it's clearly in line with the market and consumer preferences

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In the early 90's I recall a relative having purchased yet another Jaguar, I think it was the XJ6, and complaining yet again about reliability problems.  It was my brother's mother-in-law's car, who drove it purely on the cache that she believed Jaguar portrayed.  Today, quality seems to have caught up with the product image, and they offer some of the sexiest vehicles on the road.  But the price point of entry, especially for price savvy millennials who seek the ever growing luxury CUV, including the sport CUV segment, offers little to nothing.  And Jag is also wise to offer a level of value to that demographic.  Expanding their base can only help sales in all segments through the years, as customers can move up the luxury ladder.  

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