Hicks plans to put JLR higher on business drivers shopping lists

Hicks plans to put JLR higher on business drivers shopping lists

07/03/2012 in News, All News, Car Manufacturer News

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Four months into his new job as UK managing director of Jaguar Land Rover, Jeremy Hicks - the former head of Audi in the UK - must be experiencing feelings of deja vu.

He has a premium brand which he wants to see grow, with sporty R performance models and a range of SUVs. This is Audi all over again.

The task of engineering that growth was made a little easier at the Geneva Motor Show with the introduction of the XF Sportbrake, a rival for the likes of the BMW 5 Series touring and Audi A6 Avant, and the Range Rover Evoque Convertible concept.

The Sportbrake will go into production later this year but an addition to the highly successful Evoque range is dependent on reaction, although the Convertible concept must rekindle memories of Hicks's time at Audi - the Q5 was initially shown as a drop-top design study before becoming an estate for production.

"The Sportbrake opens up 20% more of the market in its segment for us," said Hicks.

"The Evoque Convertible is at this stage purely to gauge reaction, but the UK has a very strong convertible market, so it does open up possibilities for us."

More progress will be possible when, rather than if, JLR opts to go into the compact premium segment, however.

"If we are going to grow we can't rely on the existing segments," he said. 'That size of car (Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class) gives is a great opportunity, and we are actively looking at it. It can open big doors for us.

"If you look at the four-cylinder diesel engines we have in the XF, they have doubled our market opportunities and made us much stronger in the corporate sales segment," Hicks went on.

"Now we know we need to be much more active in contract hire and leasing."

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Jaguar's updated model range looks more confident and profitable without the compact X-Type which dominated sales but did little for the bottom line.

The new XJ and particularly the XF are enjoying sales success, although volumes are under pressure in 2011.

2012 will bring renewed potential for growth when the XF gets a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that will deliver expected model sales growth of 10%.

Also in the pipeline is a potential all-new replacement for the X-Type. At the opposite end of the spectrum Jaguar has confirmed that it will build its C-X75 petrol-electric hybrid supercar in partnership with Williams, the Formula 1 team.

The model was first shown at the Paris Motor Show in September 2010 but a production version will now go on sale in 2013 priced from £840,000. There will be just 250 examples available worldwide.

The C-X75 features four 195bhp electric motors – one for each wheel – linked with highly boosted petrol engine.

The 780bhp car will reach 0-62mph in less than three seconds and Jaguar claims it will have less than 99g/km of carbon dioxide emissions.

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Land Rover

Land Rover already looked relatively recession proof even before the arrival of the Evoque prompted frenzied press coverage around the world.

Land Rover expects its Range Rover models, including the Evoque, to account for more than half of its total sales volume in the long-term.

The Evoque compact SUV is the third model in its Range Rover line-up, and it is seeking to make more of its status as a prestige SUV maker as well as its heritage as a functionality-led 4x4 manufacturer.

The challenge is to ensure the brand retains its core off-road values, particularly with its plans for an eye-catching replacement for the ageing, utilitarian Defender planned for 2015.

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Comments (1)

Rob Chisholm - 97 weeks ago

It is no surprise or co-incidence then that Landrover are now beginning to starve the UK market of cars - Mr.Hicks clearly learnt his lessons well while at Audi in this regard.

What else can explain why the UK LR dealer network have seen their allocations slashed. Orders placed in good faith and already in the pipeline have been put back by over two months. So a vehicle ordered in August 2012, expected for delivery in November 2012, will now not be made available until February 2013.

And that Mr.Joe Public (UK) is how this manufacturer treats you ... with disdain and contempt.

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