Jaguar is taking on German premium carmakers such as Porsche by producing the F-Type, its first sports car in four decades.
The UK car brand, owned by India’s Tata Motors, said at the New York auto show that it planned to unveil a production version of a two-seat convertible later this year. Jaguar previewed its plans for a sports car last September in Frankfurt as a concept vehicle, the C-X16.
The car will be made at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, and go on sale in 2013.
Tata is investing £1.5-billion a year in new products at JLR, building an engine plant, and launching production in China in an effort to broaden the brands’ appeal and take on Germany’s much bigger premium brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.
Jaguar’s line-up at present consists of saloons, the XF and XJ, and its XK coupe/ convertible. The sports car will aim to compete with models such as Porsche’s Boxster and Mercedes’ SLK in a profitable but highly competitive segment.
Tim Urquhart, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, said: “I’m sure it’s going to be a good addition to their range, and it’s an obvious place for them to go. The car will probably be a bigger seller than the XK, which is coming to the end of its model cycle.”
Jaguar’s last sports car was the E-Type, which was launched in 1961 and went out of production in the early 1970s.
Adrian Hallmark, the brand’s global director, said that the carmaker aimed “to produce a world leader in a market segment that we have been absent from for too long”.
The Jaguar marque has underperformed relative to its sister Land Rover brand, which is profiting from buoyant global demand for sport utility vehicles.
Ralf Speth, the carmakers’ chief executive, said that JLR sold more than 45,000 vehicles in March, up 40 per cent on a year ago and their highest sales ever. Land Rover’s sales were 45 per cent higher year-on-year, and Jaguar’s rose more than 25 per cent.