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Jaguar puts C-X75 supercar on ice

By Phil McNamara

Motor Industry

11 December 2012 09:00

Jaguar has reversed its plan to sell the C-X75 hybrid supercar, fearing the project could be a commercial failure unable to recoup its investment.

‘After a thorough reassessment of the market conditions, the company’s view is that the global economic landscape does not currently support the introduction of a supercar such as C-X75,’ said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar global brand director.

Together with project partner Williams F1, Jaguar has built five prototypes of the plug-in hybrid. But it’s an incredibly complex car, taking Jaguar into unknown territory: carbon composite construction; a four-cylinder engine, with both turbo and supercharger, revving to a stratospheric 10,000rpm; and electric motors turning both front and rear axles, for hybrid four-wheel drive. To underline the point, the project’s stretch goal was to offer the divergent attributes of Bugatti Veyron performance combined with Toyota Prius emissions. 

That said, Porsche will commercialise its four-wheel drive, plug-in hybrid supercar in 2013. Porsche claims the 918 Spyder will be capable of 0-62mph in sub-3.0sec and 203mph flat-out, with combined fuel consumption of 94mpg with just 70g/km of CO2.

Why is the C-X75 being shelved?

Jaguar’s ambitions have been thwarted by a combination of factors. Commercially, there was no guarantee the C-X75 would have met its target of 200-250 sales, especially with intense competition from renowned super-sports car brands. Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche would have all got to market first with hybrid supercars in 2013, with Honda’s new NSX following in 2015. Intense competition in a depressed market: in 2011, super-sports car sales were still 25% down on their 2007 level.

There was also the risk of technical challenges sucking up engineering capacity and investment cash. In global terms, Jaguar-Land Rover is still a small, self-sufficient car maker: Porsche can tap into Volkswagen Group platforms to bring its forthcoming Macan SUV to market, while much of the Bugatti Veyron investment was offset by record Audi revenues.

Jaguar has had to make a tough call, but a halo car like the C-X75 was – in the best case scenario – never going to deliver sustainable profits like a competitor for BMW’s 3-series or a crossover SUV. Both of those are medium-term Jaguar ambitions, and both could have been blown off course by the C-X75 becoming a money/resource pit. ‘We remain committed to significant ongoing new product investment – £2bn in this financial year – which will continue to drive the expansion of the JLR business,’ said Hallmark.    

We’ve seen these kind of announcements from Jaguar before. In 2004, Jag closed its Browns Lane factory, slashed output and pulled out of F1 in a bid to stem losses. Two years earlier, the mid-engined F-type project was put on hold, as Jaguar switched its investment cash into much-needed diesel engines for its saloon cars. Ultimately, the F-type is making it to market, even if it’s a decade later. The C-X75 is far less likely to make a Lazarean comeback, but Jaguar promises some of its technical learnings will shape future production cars nonetheless.