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Chinese NEV market crucial as JLR ramping up electrification efforts

By LI FUSHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-18 07:31
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An employee cleans a Jaguar model during the Brussels Motor Show in Belgium last year. REUTERS

Jaguar Land Rover may find China even more important as the premium British automaker transitions toward electrification, according to experts.

Based on a new dedicated platform, Jaguar will be a pure electric brand in 2025 as part of the company's plans to become carbon neutral by 2039, as its CEO Thierry Bollore outlined in a strategy unveiled this week.

The other brand of the carmaker, Land Rover, will launch six pure electric models over the next five years, with the first to roll out in 2024. The company will build two new platforms for Land Rover.

Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, said that alongside Europe, China will be a crucial market for Jaguar Land Rover during its transition toward electrification.

"Electrification is an inevitable trend, and it may present new opportunities for niche brands like Jaguar to catch up with more popular premium ones in China," Zhang said.

China is the world's largest market for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Last year, around 1.37 million units were sold in the country, up almost 11 percent year-on-year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figure is expected to reach 1.8 million this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Zhang said new electric brands should carefully consider their competitive edge, as the premium segment of China's burgeoning NEV market is so far dominated by Tesla and local Chinese startups like Nio.

He estimated that the status quo may continue for two to three years, as established carmakers including BMW and Mercedes-Benz have failed so far to come up with competitive alternatives.

Bollore did not elaborate on how Jaguar will take on rivals in the market but said electrification will boost its performance in China, which has been a major source of turnover and profits for the carmaker.

Last year, Jaguar Land Rover sold nearly 430,000 vehicles worldwide, and sales in China accounted for 23 percent of the total.

"In China we have great performances and even greater potential is left untapped," Bollore said.

He admitted that Jaguar is less known in the country compared with Land Rover, whose products "the Chinese customers appreciate very much".

But Bollore said the company has specific plans for Jaguar's development in China as it prepares for the renaissance of the brand globally.

Jaguar Land Rover has been producing vehicles in China since 2014.Its Changshu plant in Jiangsu province has an annual production capacity of 200,000 units.

The company has "a clear ambition and determination to make better use of it", he said.

The executive did not offer details on how much investment may be needed at the plant for the new strategy and when it will start producing electric models.

Globally, Jaguar Land Rover plans to invest around 2.87 billion euros ($3.48 billion) each year in electrification technologies, connected services and data-centric technologies.

Carmakers worldwide are pursuing zero-emission strategies to meet carbon dioxide emissions targets.

In November, Volkswagen's luxury car brand Bentley Motors said its model range will be fully electric by 2030, and last month US automaker General Motors said it aims to have an all zero-emissions lineup by 2035.

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