The American press have become quite animated over Jaguar Land Rover’s British Invasion of this week’s LA Auto Show. The car maker’s launch ceremony at Paramount Studios in Hollywood marked the US debut of Jaguar’s F-TYPE and all-new Range Rover, plus the world premiere of Jaguar’s 542bhp XFR-S.
Forbes.com’s Hannah Elliott describes the scene, “..near a reflecting pool under an enormous movie screen emblazoned with “Hollywood” and search lights, the much ballyhooed F-Type convertible emerged through fog, to the backdrop of aging British rockers (think Ironmaiden) and the scent of Pimm Cups at hand. The latest iteration from Land Rover (i.e. the Range Rover) drove through the water to its spot on the stand. Flag pins with “British Invasion” were passed like dinner mints; a Union Jack fluttered in the breeze.”
Clearly the cluster-bomb approach grabbed the press’ attention, but not all were so easily convinced by JLR’s latest charm offensive.
Jerry Hirsch of the Los Angeles Times takes note of the event as being ground zero for Jaguar Land Rover’s “modern day British invasion.” But he also makes the point, “British cars have always had a particular flair, distinct from the rest of the industry. They’re also famous for making mechanics rich and owners poor. For Jaguar Land Rover to make headway in the U.S. market, it will have to capitalize on the former and fix the latter.”
Jaguar scored 28th out of 32 brands in the 2012 J.D. Power study, while Land Rover were well below the class average, so Hirsch makes the valid point that “..the automaker’s biggest hurdle will be convincing buyers that high-priced cars won’t cost them another fortune in repair bills and plummeting resale values.”
Detroit Free Press, like Forbes, was captivated by the Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘splashy debuts’, remarking “If you want to make a grand entrance, Land Rover and Jaguar decided, there is no better way than to try to upstage Moses, er, Charlton Heston, when he parted the Red Sea.”
The reason for the analogy is JLR’s choice of location for show – the Paramount Studios movie lot where Heston, as Moses, performed a miracle for The Ten Commandments and Jim Carrey tried to escape a cloistered life by boat in The Truman Show. Elsewhere, one columnist wondered if the ‘miracle famed’ backdrop was a subconscious choice by JLR, given the reputation both brands need to overcome in the US.
Meanwhile Inside Line’s Kelly Toepke noted the decision to merge Jaguar and Land Rover dealerships in the US, following North America President Andy Goss’ explanation “..Forty-five percent of people who own a Jaguar own an SUV.” Although Land Rover sales are up 18 percent year to date, Jaguar sales have been flat, so perhaps this move will encourage Land Rover customers to also buy Jaguar, rather than the other way around.
It’s been an interesting week for Jaguar Land Rover in Los Angeles, their new models have clearly caught the attention of the press and the confidence conveyed by their British Invasion will encourage buyers to revisit their showrooms.
Elliott remarks “..Jaguar is doing everything it can to bring back the magic” and they need to, the good news is it looks like their latest models come with magic as standard.