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Market Insight: Land Rover on record pace

Old faithful: Land Rover has recorded significant interest in the Defender since the company announced that production of the 23-year-old model would cease by the end of 2015.

Land Rover set for another record sales year with high demand for key models

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Land Rover logo3 Sep 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

LAND Rover is on track to smash its 2014 record haul of 10,106 sales in Australia this year, with registrations up 8.9 per cent to the end of August and most model lines performing well – although restricted supply of the new Discovery Sport could impede the result.

The Discovery Sport – the British brand’s replacement for the Freelander in the super-competitive compact SUV segment – launched in April with a solid order bank ensuring lengthy waiting lists for some variants, and that situation remains the case today.

“If you walk into a showroom today and say, ‘I want a black one with with these wheels and quite bespoke’, then (the waiting time is) anything from four to six months,” said Jaguar Land Rover Australia general manager of communications and public relations Tim Krieger.

“However, there are cars available in the showrooms if you are willing to be a bit more open to what’s there.

“We have … put up our hands for more cars from the factory. We think we can do even more volume with Discovery Sport in this market especially from a petrol perspective so we are working on a number of things to try and get more of those cars coming into the market.”

Since launch, Discovery Sport has clocked up 794 sales, adding to the 311 units of the previous Freelander in run-out.

After a strong sales month for Land Rover in August, in which new registrations climbed 24 per cent over the corresponding month last year, VFACTS figures show positive results for all models across the range bar the Range Rover Evoque, which is down 4.0 per cent year-to-date.

In contrast, the regular Discovery (+9.4 per cent), Defender wagon (+24.9 per cent), Defender ute (+2.7 per cent), Range Rover (+17.8 per cent) and Range Rover Sport (+2.4 per cent) are all in positive territory.

Mr Krieger would not be drawn on a specific sales target for 2015, but said the company was working towards another record result – supply permitting.

“We’re pushing hard this year and will go close,” he said. “It’s really a case of whether we can get the stock allocation from the UK.” Mr Krieger said Discovery Sport buyers faced with lengthy delivery times were not generally moving towards other models in the showroom, such as the similarly sized Evoque.

“Evoque is more an individual’s car – people who are fashion conscious, less family oriented, it’s more about aesthetics – whereas Discovery Sport is almost more of a traditional Land Rover,” he said.

“Whilst the two play in the same segment, they are quite different offerings.”

He said the company had supply issues with other models in the stable, particularly the Range Rover which currently has a three-to-four-month wait, depending on the order.

In contrast, the ageing Discovery 4 – with 1891 sales to the end of August – is performing strongly in its segment, with sales ticking over in the face of newer competition such as the BMW X5.

“Discovery 4 is six years old (and) it is doing great business for us,” Mr Krieger said. “It comes back to that right car for the right times – full-size, seven seats, incredibly capable, lots of room to throw stuff in, good powertrains, good reputation in the marketplace.

“We don’t really have to do too much to that car at all it just keeps rolling on.”

Mr Krieger said JLR Australia had also been surprised by the demand for the utilitarian Defender, which will cease production later this year after a 23-year run.

To the end of August, the wagon and ute have racked up more than 600 sales combined.

“Ever since we announced that it was coming to the end, customers have just come out of the woodwork,” Mr Krieger said.

“Last week alone we wrote 30 Defender orders. Just incredible. There is this acknowledgement in the marketplace, ‘I had better get one before they go’.”

Mr Krieger added the strength of the Australian market, and a slowdown in other regions such as Russia, Brazil and China, meant that supply issues here would be seriously considered at the factory.

“Australia is very important and as such taken very seriously when we say, ‘You know what, we need some more Discovery Sport, we need more (Jaguar) XEs.’ In days gone by they may have said, ‘You guys take your ticket.’ Now it’s: ‘We have got to look after Australia.’”

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