Tata Motors’ British luxury marquee Jaguar-Land Rover (JLR) expects to vroom past the 4,500-unit volume-mark this fiscal year and increase its market share to around 14 per cent. It had already sold 2,942 units in the first nine months of 2017, clipping past a solid 45 per cent over same period last year. In the whole of 2016, it had clocked around 2,400 units only, accounting for around 9 per cent of the 34,000 units’ luxury market. The 34,000 units per annum in 2016 luxury car market was dominated by the German trio – Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, respectively — and JLR comes at a distant fourth slot.
JLR India president and managing director Rohit Suri is bullish about a spike in volumes despite the end of the lower taxation boost that GST regime had offered for two months and the resultant tepid festive sales in October. And he bases the high expectation to the good response it has seen in the first nine months – when the company sold 45 per cent more units over what it had sold in the same period last year.
“We are hopeful of closing this fiscal with a volume of 4,500 units and a market share of 13-14 per cent. Last year with a volume of fewer than 2,500 units, we had 8-9 per cent of the market pie,” Suri told PTI in an interaction here over the weekend.
He also expects the new ‘Discovery’, launched last evening with two global industry first features and at attractive prices coupled with a petrol option, to do the needful in the remaining part of the year.
Merc retained its leash over the market for the third year in a row during the first nine months of 2017 selling 11,869 units, up 20 per cent, driven by the new E Classand the SUVs. BMW sold 7,138 units in the same period, a growth of 17.3 per cent, on robust demand for the new BMW 5 series sedan, helping it make a comeback to the No 2 slot after many years.
The niche market, which is only 1 per cent of total passenger car market, was bumping from one regulatory or taxation hiccup or another since the past two years such as the Supreme Court ban on high end diesel vehicle sale in Delhi -NCR, note-ban and the short-lived GST boost.
JLR expects the 7-seater fifth generation Land Rover Discovery to boost the sales given the petrol option and the lower prices starting from ₹ 71.38 lakh for the petrol option.
The full size seven-seater premium SUV comes with both a 3-litre petrol and diesel powertrain options and offers a host of features such a full-sized spare wheel with an automatic tyre lifting option and intelligent seat fold functionality-both industry firsts. The new model comes in six variants.
It also boasts of the highest wading depth of 900 mm, (Merc’s GLS has only 600 mm while Q7 of Audi offers only 500 mm) which will help the vehicle wade through flooded streets, the company said.
Suri also bases his optimism to the filling of a wide gap in his Land Rover portfolio all these while with the new Discovery.
“The Land Rover portfolio ranged from the ₹ 42 lakh Discovery Sport and the ₹ 1.66-crore priced Range Rover leaving a yawning gap in the middle. The new Discovery fills that gap, which should help further build onto our already high growth we have had so far this year. Also, there is a faster move towards petrol models which also we are filling up with the new Discovery. Earlier our volumes were 95 per cent diesel but it is only around 75 per cent now,” Suri said.
But he parried a direct answer about sales expectations from the new Discovery which will be imported from England, saying “We’re already booked for the first two months.”
Land Rover launched the first Discovery 28 years ago and the latest model is the fifth generation.
Suri said India is the only market where the new Discovery offers headroom for seven adults across the three rows of seating. It also offers permanent four-wheel drive. The Land Rover range in the country includes the Discovery Sport ( ₹ 42 L), Range Rover Evoque ( ₹ 44.44 L), new Discovery ( ₹ 71.38 L), Range Rover Sport ( ₹ 93.82 L) and Range Rover ( ₹ 166.42 L). JLR sells its nine models (from Jaguar-the XE, XF, F-Pace and F-Type) sells through 25 outlets. It added two dealers this year and may add a similar number next year as well, Suri said.
Suri said from Jaguar stable the XE, XF, F-Pace are the volume grossers, while from the LR side the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque do the volumes.
“The first nine months performance is a great testimony to our focus on building highly aspirational brands and world-class sales and after-sales infrastructure,” Suri said, adding with over 4.8 million Facebook fans, JLR has the highest fan following among all the luxury players in the country.