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Quality is to come first for reborn Jaguar Land Rover buying experience

An Arch Concept Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) car dealership

Quality is the vital area of focus for Jaguar Land Rover UK's senior team as it shifts from a volume-driven prestige car competitor to reach its ambition of being a company with a "house of brands" providing "modern luxury" products and experiences.

During the shift it will replace its dealer network's new car franchises with contracts as agents for the OEM's own direct sales to consumers; it will make the Range Rover, Discovery, Defender and Jaguar marques into their own, distinctive car brands, each with their own identity within updated JLR ARCH-style dealerships; and it aims to make the buying, ownership and repurchase experience seamless, painless and exciting for customers - including few vehicle breakdowns.

The investors in its franchise, which are mostly AM100 car dealers such as Pendragon, Lookers, Hatfields but still include a few smaller operations such as Roger Young and Duckworth, have been shown its future network expectations but the carmaker's executives refused to discuss network developments, such as the extent of cuts to the number of sales points for any brand, at a meeting with AM this week. 

"This is a genuine transformation point," said Patrick McGillycuddy, acting managing director of JLR UK. "Fundamentally what's important is how we are going to do this together with our retail partners."

Jaguar and Land Rover franchisees have invested significant sums into ARCH type dealerships since the corporate identity was first introduced in 2014, when JLR sought to get many more of its SUVs and saloons into drivers' hands, including in the company car market.

The company aims to shift from selling new cars in high volumes to being a "modern luxury brand." and its "Reimagine" corporate strategy is designed to move it away from the "crowded" mass premium marketplace, and let it play to its strengths.

"Modern luxury puts us in a very different place," McGillycuddy (pictured) added.

"Production should always be less than demand. Pull not push is a hallmark of this strategy."

Buying a new car from the company will be "client-led" in future, and work is under way to allow the carmaker to sell all its new cars direct to consumers by November 2024, the point at which the retained franchisees become agents.

Sytner Group's Guy Salmon site in StockportRecognizing the need for improvement in reliability, JLR acknowledges that past emphasis on high sales volumes may have contributed to the issue, and conceded that some consumers may have been burned by poor ownership experiences as their expensive premium SUVs spent days inside dealers' workshops.

Andrew Woolliscroft, client care director for Jaguar Land Rover, acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead in implementing these transformations, and that addressing reliability issues to ensure the success of the strategy.

Warranty repairs for the company's latest models have decreased by a third since 2020, he said, and more progress is to come, while JLR must also ensure that any issues which arise are overcome by an outstanding customer experience.

Dealers, and JLR's vehicle recovery partner, will play a significant role in identifying and resolving faults more quickly to improve overall customer satisfaction. Currently around 80% of breakdowns can be resolved at the roadside, he added.

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