China / Motoring

Auto Special: Rising numbers, new products by Jaguar Land Rover

By Han Tianyang (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-26 07:56

 Auto Special: Rising numbers, new products by Jaguar Land Rover

Top: The new F-Type billed as "the most beautiful, thrilling, and desirable sports car that Jaguar has ever produced" made its China debut at the Guangzhou auto show. Above: The all-new Range Rover on display at the auto show. Photos provided to China Daily

While sales in China's luxury vehicle market slowed a bit this year after many year of strong growth, British premium carmaker Jaguar Land Rover continues to reach new milestones.

The automaker owned by India's Tata Motors delivered more than 60,000 vehicles - all imports - in China year to date, including about 55,000 Land Rovers and 6,000 Jaguars. The numbers represent year-on-year growth of over 70 percent.

Last year, Jaguar Land Rover reported a 60 percent increase in sales to about 42,000 vehicles.

"Our success is due in part to our rapidly expanding dealership network," Bob Grace, president of Jaguar Land Rover China, said in his speech on the first day of the Guangzhou Auto Show underway from Nov 22 to Dec 2.

"We currently have a strong network of 147 appointed dealerships in 87 cities," he said.

In southern China, the company has appointed nearly 30 dealers, half of them now operational. The rest will open in the next six months, he said.

"For every city that we look to franchise, we have multiple applications - we can have 10 to 15 applications for every city," Grace told China Daily.

He added that the company has strict standards in choosing dealer partners to ensure they can deliver the best services to local customers.

To further enhance its presence in the southern region, the company said it will also set up a regional office and a training academy in Guangzhou next year, adding to existing facilities in Beijing and Shanghai.

New models The carmaker's all-new Jaguar F-Type and all-new Range Rover made their China debuts at the Guangzhou auto show after their world premieres in Paris in September. Both models will hit the market in 2013 in a new offensive to drive sales growth at Jaguar Land Rover.

The all-new Jaguar F-Type is a two-door, two-seat sports car with a lightweight all-aluminum body, the newest product in the brand's China portfolio, which also includes the XF, XJ and XK.

With its combination of design aesthetics and top performance, the F-Type is billed as "the most beautiful, thrilling, and desirable sports car that Jaguar has ever produced".

The model will have three variants available, with the top-performance F-Type V8 S equipped with a 495 hp 5-liter turbocharged engine.

The all-new Range Rover, the fourth generation flagship model of Land Rover, features various technical innovations including an all-aluminum body structure , a world-first in the SUV market.

According to the company, it invested 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) into the new Range Rover, with close to 370 million pounds ($592 million) used at manufacturing facilities, including the world's largest aluminum body construction plant. As a result, the latest vehicle is stiffer, stronger, safer and 420kg lighter than the outgoing model, it said.

The interior has also been greatly improved, taking Range Rover to "new levels of quality and refinement," the company said.

"We are confident that the all-new Range Rover will firmly position Land Rover in the heart of the ever-growing luxury market - the vehicle will grow our brand and build our business," said John Edwards, global brand director of Land Rover.

The company also showcased the XJ flagship business edition AWD at the Guangzhou auto show, its latest effort in bringing diverse products to Chinese consumers. The all-wheel-drive system specially developed for the XJ can offer improved traction in extremely bad weather conditions.

Joint venture

Shortly before the Guangzhou Auto Show, Jaguar Land Rover and its local partner Chery Automobile Co broke ground on their joint venture plant in Changshu, Jiangsu province, which is expected to be operational in 2014 with a designed annual capacity of 130,000 vehicles and the same number of engines.

With a total investment of 10.9 billion yuan, the plant will first produce Land Rovers and later also Jaguars, according to Grace. He declined to give specifics on what models will be built.

He did say that an all-new Jaguar model - "almost certainly a long-wheelbase format" - will be produced in Changshu after the factory is completed.

Jaguar's market performance is not as strong in China as its sister brand Land Rover, which enjoys blistering sales with the nation now its biggest market in the world.

Jaguar competes in a segment dominated by locally produced long-wheelbase luxury vehicles, so "localizing Jaguar products is quite key for us", said Grace.

He noted that the company has already made a number of changes to adapt Jaguar to the Chinese market and the efforts will continue. But "clearly the breakthrough will come when we start to localize a Jaguar product here in the future", he said.

Responding to questions about whether local production with Chery will devalue the British luxury brands, Grace firmly answered that "Jaguar Land Rover customers won't be disappointed when they see the vehicles coming off the production line here in China - they will be true to the spirit of Jaguars and Land Rovers in exact the same way that they are today".

"In English we have an expression - the proof of the pudding is in the eating," the British native went on to say. "We understand what the ingredients are, we understand how to cook, but unfortunately, we have to wait for two years for you to be able to see the proof of the pudding.

"We have built a very strong customer base here in China, and I am 100 percent sure that when we start manufacturing vehicles here they will see it as a natural evolution and they won't be disappointed in any respect," he said.

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