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X-type cuts ‘sensible’

Jaguar dealers are backing the carmaker’s decision to has cut production of its X-type model at the Halewood factory to just three days a week.

The Ford-owned company says the reduction, which follows a seven-day shut-down in April, is designed to bring production and demand into line, and to avoid overstocking. There is no indication when full-time production will resume.

Dealer council chairman James Brearley, of Pendragon’s Avalon Jaguar dealership in Wolverhampton, describes the action as “sensible”.

“The franchise is difficult at the moment, and has been for some time – as is the case for most luxury car franchises,” says Brearley. “But business is stable, and it remains a franchise dealers want to be involved with. Some may be grumbling at the moment, but I don’t see retailers looking to duck out of the Jaguar franchise.”

A spokesman for the manufacrturer blames the X-type cuts on tough trading conditions in America. “We are refocusing our marketing in the US on the S-Type, XJ and XK cars, which are the more profitable vehicle lines – the premium end. We are also pulling the X-type out of daily rental.”

Despite poor sales in the US, Jaguar says it is seeing growth in the UK and Europe, including for the X-type – bouyed by its diesel and estate derivatives.

“Overall, our market performance is where we would expect it to be, and we continue to work on getting back to solid business,” says the spokesman.

Jaguar’s worldwide sales were about 20% lower in this year’s first quarter than they were in the first three months of 2004, according to Autodata.

Professor Garel Rhys of Cardiff Business School says X-type simply hasn’t been successful enough to be profitable.

“It’s clear the car has not matched the company’s ambitions.,” says Rhys. “Jaguar is attacking the cost side, but it doesn’t have the economies of scale that BMW, for example, is able to generate with its 3-series production run of more than 0.5m units a year.

“But ultimately, it is the market that will determine whether the car – which Jaguar needs if it wants to be a volume producer – has a future or not.”

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