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 has probably held a privileged position among premium brands in the UK in that because it is British, customers may be more prepared to overlook little problems with the cars.

The cars themselves certainly come with a ‘feel-good factor’, well equipped for the money and with stylish exteriors and interiors.

Updates to the XJ and XF range have kept sales treading water while the new car market has improved, while the introduction of the F-Type Roadster in 2013 and the F-Type Coupé this year have certainly grabbed worldwide attention.

Next on the horizon is a BMW 3 Series rival called the XE, which will be crucial to increase Jaguar’s presence in the business car sector, and it will be offered with a new 2.0-litre diesel engine developed in house.

Hi-tech lightweight aluminium construction will put it at the top of the class for low CO2 emissions, and rear-wheel drive will also keep driving enthusiasts happy.

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Land Rover

Several years ago, 4x4s were treated as a menace by some in the national media. Then the recession took hold, which could have spelled disaster for a four-wheel drive specialist, such as Land Rover.

But its foray into front-wheel drive SUVs, first with the Freelander, then with the ultra-successful Range Rover Evoque seem to have attracted new customers to the brand. Dealers, it seems, love it, with very high ratings in the NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey.

In the past 18 months, the two larger Range Rover models have been renewed with new, lighter aluminium vehicles, while Land Rover is seeking to capitalise on the Range Rover’s appeal as a bona fide luxury saloon alternative with a long-wheelbase version.

With registrations approaching 55,000 in 2013, and this year’s total looking likely to reach 60,000, all eyes will be on 2015 as the Discovery family is set to grow, adding a smaller model to replace the Freelander, while we should get our first glimpse of the long-awaited Defender replacement.

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Comments (1)

Rob Chisholm - 116 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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