Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

How Jaguar/Land Rover turned the corner

  • Print
The new Range Rover Evoque will reportedly have a nine-speed automatic transmission.

POSTMEDIA Enlarge Image

The new Range Rover Evoque will reportedly have a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Tip your hat to Tata. The Indian conglomerate that bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford in 2008 has turned out to be the best owner the British marques ever had.

While other luxury brands changed hands before and during the Great Recession -- most notably Hummer, Saab, Aston Martin and Volvo -- and stumbled under new ownership, Jaguar Land Rover is flourishing. But challenges lie ahead.

In the five years since the Tata Group bought them from Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover have aggressively adopted fuel-efficient new drivetrains, with more to come. The brands' styling have also been energized, as JLR's design teams shook things up with fresh styling.

Land Rover's case was especially dire. In 2008, the SUV-only brand appeared to be on a fast track to extinction.

JLR and Tata turned that around with the Evoque, the first vehicle largely developed under the new management. The small, fuel-efficient Evoque redefined the luxury SUV, won awards and fueled a sales surge. JLR dealers made a record 357,773 sales in 2012, the Evoque's first full year on the market.

"They've managed to take a brand that was three-quarters of the way around the bend to irrelevancy and make it something to be benchmarked for style, technology and luxury," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Bill Visnic.

Equally important, Tata listened to the people who sell Jaguars and Land Rovers. Ratan Tata, the company's recently retired chairman, toured American dealerships and asked what they needed to compete with BMW and Mercedes. The folks who sell the cars and SUVs begged for fuel-efficient drivetrains and all-wheel-drive cars. Without them, Jaguar was a marginal player, shut out of the segments that account for 93 per cent of U.S. luxury sales.

Just two years later, every Jaguar sedan offers all-wheel-drive and either a four- or six-cylinder engine is available in nearly every model JLR sells.

The results speak for themselves. JLR's U.S. sales are up 13 per cent this year. JLR's pre-tax profit rose 27 per cent last year and should be higher this year.

JLR's next big move comes this fall, when the little Jaguar F-type roadster arrives. Priced, sized and powered to compete with such sports cars as the Porsche Boxster and Chevrolet Corvette, the F-type was developed to attract new buyers and restore the brand's credentials with enthusiasts.

Even quality -- long their weakness -- is improving. J.D. Power rated Jaguar No. 2 in initial quality last year. Land Rover still scores poorly.

JLR executives say Tata has reinvested profits in new products and plants, but can they keep up with competitors who sell two or three times as many vehicles?

Both Jaguar and Land Rover still benefit from engines and platforms developed when the brands were part of Ford's global research and development system. It's building a plant in England to produce new fuel-efficient engines, beginning in 2015 or 2016. It will be a huge victory for Tata if the engines can compete with the best from global luxury brands.

After that comes a pair of even taller tasks: developing new vehicle platforms and a compact sedan that can compete with the BMW 3 series, Cadillac ATS and Mercedes-Benz C-class. Every global luxury brand needs to be in that hot-selling segment.

Whether JLR delivers on those metrics could determine if the first five years under Tata were the beginning of a golden age, or a brief moment in the sun.

-- Detroit Free Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2013 A1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Reimagining Winnipeg as the big city of the future

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Canada's involvement in the fight against Islamic State?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google