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Jaguar targets fleets with updated, RDE2-compliant XE saloon

Jaguar is renewing its focus on SME fleets, launching an updated version of the XE compact executive saloon with the first RDE2-compliant diesel engine in its class.

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Speaking to Fleet World, senior product planning manager Wayne Darley said the outgoing car had been a vital ice-breaker for getting the brand on fleet choice lists ahead of subsequent launches. Over half of early cars had gone to fleets, weighted towards SMEs and thus high trim levels, while low CO2 had driven a 70% diesel mix.

Jaguar is aiming for around 10,000 UK sales with the new car and it’s still targeting SMEs, but Darley acknowledged that there had been a significant shift in buying habits since the XE launched in 2014. UK volumes are now 60% petrol-weighted, due in part to 4% Benefit-in-Kind penalties introduced against diesels last April.

The new XE will be the first diesel car in its class to avoid that surcharge, thanks to a 2.0-litre, 178bhp engine which is compliant with the new RDE2 standard, introduced with Euro 6d. This is an on-road test comparing harmful exhaust emissions to those obtained under laboratory conditions, and Jaguar is aiming to have its entire diesel range compliant comfortably ahead of the January 2021 deadline for new registrations.

However, while Darley sees this opening new doors with fleets, the company is predicting petrol will continue to be more popular for the short term as the market catches up. Jaguar can quickly adjust production at its engine plant in Wolverhampton if demand shifts, and ‘electrified’ versions of its core models will arrive from next year.

“We’ve pushed our engineering teams hard to make sure we can achieve [RDE2 compliance], as we know in the UK that’s important,” he said. “The message still needs to get out there that diesel is OK and it’s part of the solution, not the problem.

“Within our fleet teams we are really pushing this message really hard with our customers, because what we need is some of their [fleet] policies to recognise RDE2. At the moment many of them are CO2 driven – RDE2 sends out a message not just about CO2 but about NOx.”

The RDE2-compliant diesel engine is being introduced as part of a mid-cycle upgrade for the XE, marked out by subtle exterior styling changes and a heavily re-worked interior with better quality materials – a major criticism of the old car among fleet customers.

This streamlined line-up comprises two petrol engines and one diesel, with two trim levels – XE and R-Dynamic. The latter replaces R-Sport, which had accounted for 70% of UK volume in the outgoing car. Both include leather upholstery and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, in line with customer demand beforehand, while also introducing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. Pricing starts at £33,915 on the road.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.