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Automaker to build compact SUV in China

By Angus Mcneice and Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-18 08:19

Employees work on a Jaguar automobile on the production line at Tata Motors Ltd's Jaguar assembly plant in Castle Bromwich, United Kingdom. [Photo/Agencies]

British premium automaker Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will build its new compact SUV Jaguar E-PACE in China to tap into the craze for such vehicles.

The company said its plants in the United Kingdom are close to full capacity, and it expects demand for the five-seat E-PACE would be high after the mid-sized F-PACE SUV became the fastest-selling car in the company's history, with 80,000 sold so far this year.

JLR launched the E-PACE in London on Thursday, with a stunt driver making it into the Guinness Book of World Records after making a 15.3 meter jump and 270-degree barrel roll in the vehicle.

In China, the carmaker's joint venture, Chery Jaguar Land Rover, will build the cars at its factory in Changshu, Jiangsu province. Vehicles produced there will be for local customers. The car will go on sale in China next year.

The joint venture, which started production in late 2014, is currently manufacturing the Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport, and Jaguar XFL in China.

John Zeng, managing director of LMC Automotive Shanghai, said the localized model will help JLR to make faster inroads into the compact SUV segment in China, which is currently dominated by the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

SUVs have been the fastest growing sector in the Chinese market, with their sales soaring nearly 17 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Their fast growth, which LMC believes will continue for quite a while, is in stark contrast to other segments, such as sedans, multipurpose vehicles and minivans, whose sales fell, ranging from 3.2 percent to 25.3 percent, in the same period in China.

In Europe, automaker Magna Steyr will build the E-PACE in Austria, starting later this year, and it will also make the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE model from 2018.

Pan Qing, executive director of Jaguar Land Rover China, said: "The Jaguar brand has caught the imagination of Chinese consumers, as evidenced by 144 percent year-on-year growth in the first six months of 2017.

"The E-PACE suits the needs and tastes of Chinese consumers from both a design and performance perspective, and we are confident that the newest member of the Jaguar portfolio will further enhance Jaguar Land Rover's competitiveness in China."

China, where some 120,000 JLR vehicles were sold in 2016, is the company's largest single-country market, generating one-fifth of global sales.

JLR's retail sales for June were up 65.3 percent year-on-year in China to 12,004 units, with nearly 7,000 made in China by Chery Jaguar Land Rover. Its UK sales were up 3.8 percent to 9,061 units, Europe up 3.7 percent, hitting 12,939 units and North America up 3.2 percent to 9,907 units.

Andy Goss, JLR sales operations director, said: "Jaguar Land Rover saw another positive performance in June, led by strong sales in China, both from imported vehicles and our Chinese joint venture."

JLR, which manufactures vehicles under the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, said Jaguar sold 15,343 vehicles in June, up 16.4 percent from last June. The company said sales of the new Land Rover Discovery continue to grow, following its launch in North America and China.

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