Economy, Auto

Jaguar Makes Longer Wheel XF Model for Chinese Market

Jaguar Makes Longer Wheel XF Model for Chinese MarketJaguar Makes Longer Wheel XF Model for Chinese Market

Jaguar will step up its challenge to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in China with the XFL, an extended wheelbase version of its XF large sedan.

The XFL will be Jaguar Land Rover's first China-specific model and will cater for the demand among chauffeur-driven executives for premium cars with greater rear legroom. It will rival long-wheelbase versions of the Audi A6, BMW 5 series and Mercedes E class.

Jaguar will unveil the XFL at this month's Beijing auto show.

The car will be the first Jaguar to be built at JLR's factory in Changshu, north of Shanghai, run with joint venture partner Chery Automobile. The XFL will go into production later this year, JLR said in a statement.

The XFL will be built alongside the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. To build the XFL, JLR has opened a new body shop to produce the automaker's D7A aluminum platform that underpins the Jaguar XF and XE sedans, as well as new F-Pace midsize SUV/crossover.

Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive opened the joint venture factory in 2014. A JLR spokesman said the new body shop represented extra investment on the 10.9 billion renimbi ($1.7 billion) already spent to establish the plant. The spokesman did not give a figure for the extra cost.

The body shop increases the plant’s current 130,000-unit annual capacity, the spokesman said without giving a figure.

Jaguar did not say which engines be offered with the XFL, but it's likely to have the same Ford-supplied 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline power-plant used by the Evoque and the Discovery Sport. JLR said further details on the XFL will be released at the XFL's unveiling at the Beijing show on April 25.

JLR has yet to open its planned new engine factory at the Changshu plant, where the company is expected to build a gasoline version of its Ingenium 2.0-liter diesel. The engine plant had been due to open in 2015. A spokesman said it will open in "months rather than years."

JLR’s China vehicle sales have been improving with the launch of locally built models. Sales of Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles rose 43% to 10,288 in March, JLR reported on April 7 without giving a breakdown for each brand. The automaker's Chinese volume increased 19%  in the first quarter.

China is JLR's fourth largest sales region behind mainland Europe, the UK and North America.