JAGUAR Land Rover (JLR) is cruising into halcyon days with sales up by 36 per cent to 360,000 this year, with the majority of its vehicles sold overseas, more specifically in the Chinese market.
Earlier this week renowned rating agency Moody's upgraded JLR Automotive's corporate rating from 'Ba3 to 'Ba2' on a strong credit profile.
Moody's senior vice-president Falk Frey, commenting on the upgrade, said: "The upgrade to Ba2 was prompted by JLR's strong and fairly stable credit metrics over the past three years."
China has become JLR's biggest market and its parent Tata plans to sell 100,000 cars in that market alone this year.
JLR's retail sales jumped 28 per cent in August to 27,852 units as compared to 21,824 in the corresponding month last year. For the month of August, sales were up 43 per cent in the China region, 40 per cent in North America, 36 per cent in the UK and 35 per cent in Asia Pacific.
Last month, Jaguar sold 5,405 units, up 92 per cent reflecting strong demand for all XF derivatives. This is a startling come-back when one considers that Jaguar sales were down 12,000 to just under 54,000 last year. Jaguar is showing a marked recovery following the launch of new models. ATL Automotive recently launched the new F-Type in Jamaica at the palatial residence of Rio Chico.
Land Rover sold 22,447 units, up 18 per cent in August. The New Range Rover, launched earlier this year, has exceeded sales expectations. It is already sold out for the next six months to a year in the United States, its biggest market. Land Rover expects 2013 sales will outnumber 2012's 43,664-unit total.
Tata Motors has declared that it will invest 1.5 billion pounds in a new, range of lightweight aluminum sports sedans and crossover SUVs aimed at the mass market.
The plan is to build on Land Rover's success with lower priced luxury models that can effectively compete with its German competitors. In this regard the Evoque has been an instant success, selling 88,000 units in its first year of production (2011), so much so that workers at its factory have been placed on a 24-hour shift pattern to cope with the demand.
With global sales of more than 170,000 vehicles in just 18 months, the Range Rover Evoque has proven to be hugely successful and the 2014 model is destined to have greater appeal.
Most global brokerages have maintained 'BUY' recommendations after JLR monthly sales data. UBS maintain 'BUY' on Tata Motors with Goldman Sachs doing the same.
Tata Motors bought JLR five years ago, back in 2008 from Ford for 1.3 billion pounds after the likes of Ford, BMW and others failed to make it a force in the automobile industry.
Today, after being self-financed and taking it out of the red, JLR reported a pre-tax profit of 1.7 billion pounds from revenues close to 16 billion pounds. In the process JLR has created 9,000 jobs at its three British plants (Solihull, 3,500 workers; Halewood, 2,500 workers; and Castle Bromwich 1,100 workers) including 1,700 announced last week. JLR plans to establish assembly plants both in China and Saudi Arabia to keep up with the demand.
Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of motor industry economics at Cardiff Business School in Wales, speaking to the Detroit News about Land Rover said that Mercedes-Benz and BMW have strong sports-utilities and crossovers, but the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4/Discovery are better.
"In the case of the Land Rover model range, there its nothing to touch it. Not even the Germans have anything to touch the product offering. They are totally outgunned by Land Rover."
Rhys predicts that JLR could hit global sales of 650,000 by 2015 — and perhaps 900,000 by 2020.