JAGUAR plans to take on China's potentially lucrative luxury car market, appointing Inchcape Pacific as exclusive importer and distributor. Jaguar chairman and chief executive Nick Scheele told a press conference the car maker would sell about 40 cars in China this year, and target 100 in 1994. He said the firm would be disappointed if sales failed to reach 400 to 500 cars within the next four to five years. ''China is set to become one of our most important development markets,'' he said. ''As with any development market, we will be growing from modest beginnings, but we see tremendous long-term potential for Jaguar in China.'' Jaguar China, a new division of Inchcape Pacific, plans to invest US$4 million to set up distribution centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Jaguar's Sovereign model will sell for US$46,000 to $60,000 with the target market being entrepreneurs, government officials and employees of foreign joint ventures. Jaguar China will also establish a number of joint-venture dealerships with the first agreements expected in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in the next few months. Mr Scheele said Jaguar had considered several firms, including its parent Ford Motor Co, before deciding Inchcape's commitment to and experience in China made it the logical partner. Jaguar and Inchcape already enjoy a close relationship as Inchcape is the largest distributor and retailer of Jaguar cars in the world, handling 10 to 12 per cent of total sales. Jaguar's move into China is the latest step in its aggressive expansion which has seen it appoint distributors in Russia, Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia and Argentina this year. Mr Scheele did not believe Jaguar would start from behind because it was entering the mainland market after rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. ''It has been our experience in new markets around the world that being early is not the answer to your prayers,'' he said. ''Our name is well known and our product is superior.'' The market for luxury cars in China, however, is somewhat cloudy because Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji's austerity programme targeted car imports for restriction. Jaguar, which was bought by Ford in 1988 for US$2.51 billion, expects to sell 29,000 to 30,000 cars this year compared with 22,000 in 1992. This pales in comparison to the mid-1980s when Jaguar's sales peaked at 50,000. Hong Kong is among its best markets as sales will probably jump 60 per cent this year to 300, accounting for about 20 per cent of the territory's luxury car market.