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Market Insight: JLR prepares for electrification

Green era: JLR will no doubt hope its move to electrification will also come with an increase in sales.

Jaguar and Land Rover divide over future tech while parent company suffers upheavals


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1 Mar 2021

THEIR very names are embedded in English automotive history since the end of the Second World War, carrying the Union Jack on Jaguar cars around the world from Daytona to LeMans while Land Rover campaigned numerous Camel events from Australia to Zaire and successfully completed the arduous trans-American expedition from Alaska to the tip of Chile.


Remarkable achievements in competition have been less remarkable for sales, especially in recent years as the Jaguar and Land Rover brands struggle under intense new-vehicle sales competition, challenging homeland politics that are affecting production optimism, and a series of skirmishes including component delays, shipping hold-ups, an occasional quarantine issue and a more impactful pandemic.


On top of this, Jaguar will be an all-electric brand from 2025 and Land Rover will introduce six pure EVs with the first on sale in 2024. 60 per cent of Land Rover models will have zero tailpipe emissions by the end of this decade as it embraces battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology.


It’s all great news for the future but at the moment, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is doing it tough with plans to cut 2000 white-collar jobs this year – on top of the 4000 announced in 2019 – and a $A750 million loss in the 2020 financial year and global sales down 23.6 per cent for the pandemic-affected 2020 calendar year.


In Australia, Jaguar recorded 1326 sales in 2020, down 41.7 per cent on 2019 and less than half of its peak 3008 annual sales of 2016 when the F-Pace swelled the customer order lists.


Land Rover has a more successful history, also peaking in 2016 with 13,597 sales before sliding to last year’s 6339 total, itself down 28.6 per cent on 2019. That year, the Range Rover Sport became the brand’s best performer, eclipsing previous favourites the Evoque and the Discovery.


Jaguar has had a more erratic sales course than its off-road sibling, becoming more sensitive to market moves typified by the sales retraction caused by the global financial crisis (2009 but shock waves up to 2011 in Australia) that barely recorded on Land Rover’s charts.


In its best year of 2016, Jaguar had six models on sale with the F-Pace and XE the best sellers given their capture of the SUV explosion (F-Pace) and the trend to downsize sedans and move to smaller cars (XE).


In that year, the XE sold 1524 units, outselling the larger XF (433 sales) and limousine-status XJ (36 sales). The F-Pace sold 829 units as the brand’s first SUV.


One year later, the stranglehold of SUVs started for Jaguar when the F-Pace outsold the XE (1275 sales compared with 791) and set the platform for the following E-Pace and the EV SUV, the I-Pace.


The E-Pace doubled F-Pace sales in 2020 and, combined with the I-Pace, found 732 new customers in the year. The F-Pace, meanwhile, sold 311 units.


I-Pace, though hardly inexpensive at $128,248 (plus costs) and upwards, has a niche as an upmarket, compact pure EV with a good range, lots of kit and very attractive lines. It would compete, primarily, with the Tesla Model X which asks from $159,400, plus costs.


Jaguar’s lauded motorsports history has been blanketed by the versatility of the SUV, with the F-Type – Jaguar’s only sports coupe – prominent in 2013 and enduring diminishing interest through the subsequent years.


In 2017, 142 F-Types were sold and by 2020, 42 found buyers. There were five sold in January this year.


The story at Land Rover is more uplifting. The Discovery had been the brand’s major strength from at least 2008 (when accurate sales records from VFacts became available) followed by Range Rover Sport and the Freelander.


But buyers sought the brand’s name with city-focused specs, including a compact size, which pressed Freelander out of the picture when the Evoque arrived in 2013 and immediately more than tripled Freelander’s 856-unit sales.


There were a lot of reasons for that, but many centred on the poor reliability record of the Freelander – to be fair, more to do with the previous Freelander 1 model – and the fact the Evoque wore the upmarket Range Rover badge.


Evoque sold 2595 units in 2013 to represent 31 per cent of the brand’s annual sales. The Discovery made up 26 per cent and the Range Rover Sport took much of the rest, leaving the crumbs to the eternally aging Defender variants and the upmarket Range Rover.


A combination of compact size and luxury appears to be better for the Land Rover models, with the 2020 line-up lead by the Range Rover Sport (26 per cent of total brand sales), Evoque (22 per cent), Discovery Sport (19 per cent) and newcomer Velar (10 per cent).


Now Land Rover embarks on an partial electric strategy and Jaguar goes full EV, losing only one model – the XJ – on its way to its self-imposed 2025 emission-free deadline.

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