Mumbai: Unlike many luxury car players who are expecting flat to negative sales this year due to the eight-month long ban on high-end diesel models, the Tatas-owned Jaguar Land Rover is confident of a big spurt in volumes and hopes to end the year with higher market share.
The luxe British car brand had runaway sales in the first quarter clipping at 45 per cent but a tepid one in the second quarter, almost negating the gains.
But with the under 2-litre F-Pace, which is the first SUV from the Jaguar stable, and the rising demand for its other models like Jaguar XF, the company hopes to do better.
“I am sure we will close the year with higher market share this year. We had around 9 per cent last year. This year it will definitely be higher, say over 10 per cent,” JLR India president Rohit Suri told PTI, without quantifying the figure.
Luxury car sales this year have been hit by the Supreme Court’s December 16, 2015 order banning registration of vehicles having engine capacity of 2000cc and above in Delhi and the NCR.
The apex court, however, in August this year lifted this ban on luxury car sales on payment of one per cent of the price of such vehicles as green cess.
In 2015, JLR sold around 3,200 units and company insiders say they have an internal target of selling 3,500-4,000 units this year.
Mr Suri said JLR had a volume growth of 45 per cent in Q1 driven by the price reduction of the Jaguar XJ. Of course, the Q2 was not that robust, he added but refused to quantify it.
Comments are interesting as the market leader Mercedes, which commands a third of the market, is expecting only flat to negative sales this year.
“I will be happy if we can maintain our last year’s sales,” Merc India head Roland Folger had told PTI earlier.
“The just launched F-Pace with an under 2-litre diesel engine should drive our sales,” he said, adding that among all the luxury carmakers – the German Merc, Audi and BMW, JLR has has the highest following in the social media space.
“Jaguar alone has 4.5 million Facebook followers here, and 2.5 million for Land Rover. Mercedes and Audi put together have only 3.5 million FB followers here, which is a reflection of the growing popularity of the brand JLR,” he said.
But it can be noted that its around 3,200 volume last year is only around a fourth of the market leader Mercedes and the No 2 Audi.
Two major reasons for this are its late entry (only in 2010) and a complete absence from under Rs 35-lakh market, which constitutes 40 per cent of the 33,000 units market. Also according to industry watchers, JLR commands too high a premium that goes upto as high as 20-40 per cent over most of the Merc and Audi models.
When pointed out this, Mr Suri admitted that he is not present in the under Rs 35 lakh market and also that his models command a premium. But he is categorical that he will do a repeat of XJ price cut last year saying that is not their strategy.
Whether JLR will lower prices of its various models here following the massive 18 per cent plunge in the British pound on the back of the Brexit vote in June, Suri said, no, as pricing is a long-term strategy and not one or two currency-specific.
“We will not lower the prices massively for the sake of doing it or to ramp up volume. This is despite the fact that we did it with good result for the Jaguar XJ last year as our price was too different in the higher side.”
“We take a long term of the pricing as we source from across the globe and the massive currency depreciation in a few units cannot be a reason for a deeper price cut. Having said, that of course we will look at that option going forward but am sure it won’t be massive as we did with the XJ,” Mr Suri said.
When asked about more local production to cut cost and increase volume, he said they are looking at bringing in more models to the local assembly. But was not forthcoming to add the F-Pace to the locally assembly line.
The five-seater F-Pace, launched last Thursday, is priced at Rs 68.4 lakh to Rs 1.12 crore, which is much above the industry average and its 3-litre high-end model competes with the Porche Macan and BMW X5, while the entry model has no rivals in the domestic market.
JLR assembles five models at its Pune plant now – the XE, XF and the XJ sedans from the Jaguar stable and the SUVs Evoque, Disovery Sport – from the Land Rover platform. Out of this, the XF is the largest volume grosser followed by Evoque.