Range Rover in vanguard of JLRrsquos diesel campaign

Range Rover in vanguard of JLR’s diesel campaign.

JLR North America Positioned to Pounce in 2016

JLR North America President Joe Eberhardt’s immediate task is holding the line on sales while the automaker nudges capacity farther ahead of demand.

DETROIT – Jaguar Land Rover is laying the groundwork for a sales surge in 2016 in North America by introducing diesel-powered Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, JLR North American President Joe Eberhardt says.

The ’16 Range Rovers due in showrooms this fall will be the first JLR models to feature the 3.0L, 6-cyl. turbodiesel Td6 engine. The powerplant makes 240 hp and 440 lb.-ft. (597 Nm) of torque and achieves fuel economy of 25 mpg (9.4 L/100 km) combined city/highway, Eberhardt says at the North American International Auto Show.

Making its North American debut at the show here is the all-new Jaguar XE going on sale in 2016. The compact luxury sport sedan will come with a choice of a 340-hp supercharged V-6, also found in the Jaguar F-Type, and the new Ingenium diesel engine.

Coming for 2016 is the 5-passenger F-Pace CUV, described by Eberhardt as inspired by the F-type sedan and sharing architecture with the all-new, aluminum-intensive XE.

Eberhardt’s immediate task is holding the line on sales while JLR nudges capacity farther ahead of demand.

Global JLR sales increased in 2014 in all regions, including 28% in China, and were up 9% year-on-year to 462,678 vehicles, the automaker says. U.S. sales were virtually flat at 67,238, just 276 units ahead of the 2013 result, with Range Rover accounting for about 80% of that total.

“We’re still short (on inventory) from a North American perspective,” Eberhardt says, noting there is just a nine to 12 days’ supply of Range Rover and Ranger Rover Sport in the U.S. But waiting lists of four to six months testify to the brand’s desirability and owner loyalty.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he says. “I’d rather have too few (units in stock) than too many.”

JLR is expanding capacity at its Solihull, U.K., adding 1,300 jobs in the process, and also is boosting Range Rover Evoque production at its China joint venture. Easing the inventory crunch will be the lightweight, low-emissions Ingenium mills soon going into production in Wolverhampton, U.K.

JLR’s customer base includes not only repeat buyers but also “superloyalists” who have made as many as a half-dozen purchases, Eberhardt says. The automaker also is pursuing conquest buyers by touting its engineering prowess and heritage.

“North American customers are connecting and relating to the ‘Britishness’ of the brand. ‘Britishness’ is in again in technology and design aspects,” he says, but adds: “We are different in a positive way. We’re still small. We can’t fill every niche. By being targeted and selective, we can find a few opportunities that allow us to punch above our weight.”

This measured approach toward expansion is reflected in JLR’s decision not to expand its U.S. dealer network this year. Dealer profitability is the automaker’s priority, Eberhardt says, adding, “We will not sacrifice profitability for the sake of volume.”

JLR’s modest sales expectations for North America this year are a prelude to a 2016 expected to bear the fruits of a $5 billion global investment in product development along with capacity expansion, Eberhardt says. “We’re sort of consolidating and waiting for the full complement of powertrains in preparation for 2016.”

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