In the works: Jaguar aluminium sports vehicles
LUXURY carmaker Jaguar said it would invest US$2.4 billion (S$3 billion) in a new range of lightweight aluminium sports sedans and crossover sport utility vehicles (SUVs) aimed at the mass market.
Jaguar said cash would be spent to design systems to help it introduce new one-piece "aluminium vehicle architecture".
A Jaguar sports sedan, due to be launched in 2015, will be the first to feature the new technology. Next up will be Jaguar's first sports crossover vehicle, called the C-X17, also featuring an aluminium frame, which is being showcased at the Frankfurt car show this week.
The spending is part of a move to launch more affordable models from 2015 to emulate the success of lower-cost luxury vehicles made by its sister company Land Rover, and will better position it to compete with its larger rivals.
Carmakers around the world are expanding into so-called premium "crossover" vehicles, seeking to tap demand for models that combine the functionality of SUVs with the comfort and performance of luxury cars.
Nearly one in every four premium vehicles sold last year in Europe was a crossover or SUV, and the category continues to grow, despite concerns about size and fuel consumption.
The Jaguar Land Rover group has roared to health in the four years since Tata Motors bought it from Ford for US$2.3 billion.
It has escaped the cycle of plant shutdowns and falling production at many European carmakers by tapping into growing demand for luxury cars in emerging markets.