Jaguar Shows Off New Lightweight E-Type As Performance Boosts Tata Profits
Jaguar has published the very first pictures of its new and eagerly awaited lightweight and hand-built E-Type. Originally, 18 of the cars were planned to be built by the company in its Browns Lane factory in 1963 but only 12 were actually built.
Jaguar has published the very first pictures of its new and eagerly awaited lightweight and hand-built E-Type. Originally, 18 of the cars were planned to be built by the company in its Browns Lane factory in 1963 but only 12 were actually built. Jaguar is now completing that model run, building the remaining six lightweight E-Types and giving them the original chassis numbers that were set aside for them. The company is referring to the new E-Type cars as ‘recreations’ but the pictures that have been published are actually of a seventh, test, model, referred to as ‘Car Zero’.
Each of the new cars will be painstakingly hand-built at Jaguar’s Heritage customer workshop, which has recently been built on the site of the old Browns Lane factory. Each will also be built with the lightweight aluminium body panels that contributed to the car’s scorching performance. Jaguar says that around 75% of the E-Type’s body panels will be fabricated in-house at Jaguar’s Whitley factory. The cars will be powered by a brand new version of the original XK six cylinder engine. This power plant features a wide angle aluminium cylinder head, an aluminium block and a dry sump lubrication set-up.
The lightweight E-Types will be offered with a choice of fuel injection systems. The cars will come with three Weber carburettors as standard but there is also a cost option of a Lucas fuel injection system. The cars will be homologated for FIA historic motorsport events and Jaguar claims that the cars will produce well in excess of 300bhp, regardless of the fuel injection system chosen. The price of the lightweight E-Types has not been made public but it is likely to be well in excess of £1 million. Jaguar has also said that it will screen potential purchasers, preferring those who intend to drive and race the car over those who would simply put it in a museum. Deliveries are expected in 2015.
The six cars themselves are unlikely to contribute hugely to Jaguar’s profits but the project is intended to showcase the abilities of Jaguar’s Heritage customer workshop, which will be carrying out a range of restoration projects on behalf of customers. However, the performance of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has been a key part of the success of parent company, Tata Motors’ rise in profits. Net profits at the company tripled to £525 million in the second quarter of 2014, easily exceeding analysts’ predictions of a 40% rise. In the same period, sales at JLR increased by 22%. The sales growth at JLR is offsetting Tata’s Indian car sales, which have dropped by 28%.
In a statement, the company said: "A continuing weak operating and economic environment in the standalone Indian business was more than offset by strong demand for new products, growth in volumes, richer product mix and richer geographic mix at Jaguar Land Rover." The market responded positively to the news and shares in Tata rose by over 3% as the announcement was made. The company also hopes to reverse the trend of declining sales in its domestic market with the launch of the Tata-branded Zest model in August.
Tata’s Indian sales have suffered in 2014 after the disastrous performance of the Tata Nano. The Nano was intended to be India’s answer to the Model T. It was the world’s cheapest car when it was launched in 2009 and enthusiasm was so great in India that 200,000 orders were taken before launch. Soon, however, rumours spread of the car’s poor safety record with some models apparently spontaneously bursting into flames. By December 2013, sales of the Nano had dwindled to a shocking 554 and then the death blow was dealt when the car received a zero star safety rating from global Ncap.
Tata has responded by improving the car and increasing the price tag. They have also retargeted the car’s marketing at young middle class Indian drivers, instead of the rural first-time buyer that was originally targeted. Time will tell if this strategy can reverse the damage caused by the Nano’s appalling reputation. In the meantime, JLR continues to turbo boost the company’s profits.