Ford Motor Co. looks to inject a modest boost into Jaguar Car sales in the U.S., unveiling a more family-minded X-Type this week at the California International Auto Show in Anaheim, CA.

The auto maker unwraps the ’05 X-Type Sportwagon, which hits dealers in late November with a $36,995 sticker price. Annual volume will be decidedly low – 2,000 units, equal to less-than one month’s worth of sedan sales – but will do much to appease dealers who have been relatively product starved in recent years. (See related story: Jaguar to Sell X-Type Wagon in U.S.)

“We’re just happy to get anything new,” Molly Padovini, general manager of Jaguar of Troy (MI), tells Ward’s. She says the initial low volume will do little to lift individual dealer sales tallies, but she expects Jaguar to increase wagon allocation to the U.S. if there is stronger-than-expected demand.

A Jaguar spokesman confirms the X-Type Sportwagon’s U.S. allotment “will be market driven.”

Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon


The X-Type gets roomier inside.

Jaguar currently sells the X-Type wagon in Canada and in Europe. There are slight differences between the U.S.-specification wagon and the one sold north of the border, such as chrome roof rails for the U.S. version vs. black rails on the Canada-bound cars. The U.S. does not get Canada’s power headlamp washers.

The vehicle – which Jaguar expects to sell well in snow-belt states and in big cities –likely will contribute less than 4% to Jaguar’s annual delivery count in the U.S. and 7% of X-Type sales if it hits initial sales goals.

Jaguar joins Audi AG, Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG in offering a wagon derivative of an entry-level sedan in the U.S., and its sales target is on pace with at least one of its rivals: BMW sold 67,860 4-door 3-Series cars in 2003, of which 7% were wagons.

Audi sells the richest wagon mix, with 25% of the 42,650 A4s delivered the wagon model. Wagons account for 21% of 4-door Mercedes C-Class sales.

Every additional unit is needed at Jaguar, where demand in the U.S. is down 15.5% from like-2003 through September. Throughout the year’s second half, the outlook has grown bleaker for the brand, with sales declines from year-ago of 21.8%, 33.4% and 41.6% recorded in July, August and September, respectively.

X-Type sales are off like-2003’s pace by 19.6% so far in 2004, following a 40.1% decline in September (2,074 vs. 3,324). To date, X-Type deliveries account for nearly 50% of Jaguar’s U.S. volume.

While Jaguar sinks, Japanese luxury brands – Infiniti, Acura and Lexus – and Germany’s BMW are riding sales gains of 6% or better. Mercedes-Benz is 1.2% off the year-ago mark and Audi is down 9.9%. Volvo, another of Ford’s European brands, is up 2.9%, while Cadillac is touting a 10.3% upswing.

The Sportwagon rides on the same 106.7-in. (271.0-cm) wheelbase as the sedan and comes standard with all-wheel drive, a 3L V-6 engine and 5-speed automatic.

At 185.6 ins. (471.6 cm) long, the wagon is only 2 ins. (5.1 cm) longer than the sedan – a significant space advantage can be achieved by folding down the seats, boosting trunk capacity from 16 cu.-ft. (455 L) to 50 cu.-ft. (1,415 L). At 3,638 lbs. (1,610 kg), the wagon outweighs the sedan by 55 lbs. (25 kg).

While the addition of the Sportwagon derivative is the most distinctive change to the X-Type range, it will be joined by a pair of new sedan trim levels – the $37,945 3.0 Sport and the $38,745 Vanden Plas edition.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com