'There is still a lot of work for us to do,' said Jaguar's managing director, Jonathan Browning. 'However, we do believe the upper segment of the company car market is not as cost-sensitive to such issues as other parts of the sector.' Neither does he consider diesel as being a 'quick-fix' to address the situation. 'It is proposed - provisionally - that diesel should carry a 3% penalty, so we don't really favour that as the answer. Having said that, diesel does play a part in the overall landscape of Jaguar's future.' he said.
Although it is arguably true that the upper end of the new car market is indeed, generally the least cost-sensitive, the knock-on effect of having a range which carried a heavy user tax penalty could have a detrimental effect on residuals. The company car tax bandings are in 1% stages from April 2002, starting at 15% of list price for cars emitting up to 169.99 grammes of CO2 per kilometre to 35% for those with a 265g/km or worse performance.
With Jaguar's current range, the vehicle with the lowest CO2 emissions is the 3.0 V6 S-type with a tax rating of 268g/km, tantalisingly close to at least making it into a sub-35% banding for the first year of the scheme. The current Jaguar XJR has no chance at 309g/km CO2, but it will also be rated at 35% of list price as will supercars with outputs in excess of 400g/km. The new 'small' Jaguar, the X400, due to be launched next year, will almost certainly fit more happily into the bandings. Browning was tight-lipped as to whether a diesel option would be available with Jaguar's BMW 3-series, Mercedes M-class and Audi A4 rival.