Monday, September 19, 2011

All models will be launched in China soon: Jaguar Land Rover

The new Jaguar XF was unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show

As British luxury automaker Jaguar Land Rover makes its most aggressive moves ever and rolls out about 40 new and revamped models in the next five years, the good news for Chinese fans is that a majority of them will be brought to the country, said Bob Grace, president of the company's China operation.

Earlier this year, the manufacturer owned by India's Tata Motors announced that it plans to invest about 1.5 billion pounds ($2.37 billion) every year for the next five years in new products.

"That will see us bring a lot of new models to China - they are all luxury vehicles with the latest technology, the cars that Chinese consumers are demanding," Grace told China Daily in an interview at the Chengdu Motor Show.

Some of the new models will be tailor-made for Chinese customers, who often prefer to ride in the backseat rather than driving themselves, Grace said, noting that the company will pay a lot more attention to rear seat comfort, including reclining and massaging seats as well as entertainment devices.

Like most of international luxury carmakers, Jaguar Land Rover already offers long wheelbase model in the Chinese market, a version of the Jaguar XJ.

The carmaker displayed its full range of Jaguar and Range Rover models at the Chengdu Motor Show, the most important auto exhibition in west China, which is expected to attract more than 350,000 visitors from September 16 to 25.

Grace said that the company plans to double its number of dealerships next year in western China, "an area that we expect to see significant growth".

Jaguar Land Rover has sold nearly 27,000 vehicles so far this year in China, an increase of 60 percent over a year earlier.

China is now the third-biggest market for Jaguar Land Rover worldwide, and is about to become the second largest, the company said.

Nearly 6,000 orders have been placed for the new Range Rover Evoque since pre-sales began in April.

On the verge

"The luxury car market in China is on the verge of becoming the biggest in the world," Grace said, "Jaguar Land Rover is very well positioned with the range of products to take advantage of that."

Grace estimates that China's luxury car market will grow more than 20 percent this year, much faster than the 5 percent growth in the overall auto market.

He also noted that the luxury SUV market will increase even more, a segment that the Land Rover brand is well positioned to tackle.

"Over the course of the next three to five years, we will see our business go from strength to strength," Grace said with confidence.

In the Chinese luxury market where German brands prevail, Grace believes that Jaguar and Land Rover, with unique brand heritage, contemporary design and differentiated luxury, could be an allure.

A most recent example of its "distinctive, not me-too" vehicles is the Range Rover Evoque, or Jiguang in Chinese. The company began pre-sales of the latest and smallest Range Rover model in China at the Shanghai auto show in April and has received nearly 6,000 orders so far.

"Consumer reaction to the Range Rover Evoque has been phenomenal everywhere across the world, not least here in China," Grace said.

The model just rolled off the production line in Liverpool, England in July this year.

The automaker now imports its Jaguar XF, XJ and XK, as well as Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Freelander 2, Discovery 4 and Defender under the Land Rover brand to China through a national sales company that was established in July last year.

More vehicles will come to China in the coming years include the Land Rover DC 100, DC 100 Sport and Jaguar C-X 16 concepts that were debuted at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, Grace said.

Training talent

Along with rapid business expansion in China, Jaguar Land Rover have established training academies in Shanghai and Beijing. The company plans to open a third in south or west China in the first half of next year.

Jointly with a local vocational college, the automaker launched an apprentice program in the beginning of this month.

Cultivating local talent is one of the company's goals for long-term sustainable development in the strategic market, Grace said.

"There is probably more talent in China than anywhere else in the world - the biggest issue is to make sure they understand the expectations of luxury customers."

Grace said that luxury customers in China today are much more globally aware and expect the type of high-level services they received in hotel and airlines when traveling around the world.

By the end of this year, Jaguar Land Rover will have about 100 dealerships in China. To ensure quality growth, the company has strict criteria in choosing new dealer partners.

They must have luxury brand experience, be good at customer relations and have skilled talent in their management, Grace said.

Big step

The biggest step Jaguar Land Rover will take in China is local production of its cars with a joint venture partner.

"We will bring latest technology to China in the short term as imported vehicles, but over a period of time, we will start to localize some key models," Grace said.

"Building vehicles here in China is a natural extension of wanting to develop the marketplace. It will allow us to manufacture cars tailored to the local consumer with faster access to the marketplace."

He did not reveal the details of the plan, only saying that the company is working "very aggressively" on the process.
Source: China Daily

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