BEIJING: Jaguar Land Rover, the premium vehicle manufacturer, is seeking to catch up with its German rivals in China by developing new models, expanding its sales outlets and forging local joint ventures.
The UK-based marque, owned by Tata Motors, is a late entrant to the Chinese market, having only joined in 2010. Its June sales figure of 7,210, although up 11% from the year before, is still dwarfed by the 44,749 units sold by Audi, the 34,481 by BMW and the 19,549 by Mercedes.
Despite signs that growth is slowing in China, Bob Grace, Jaguar Land Rover's China president, told livemint that the luxury car market in China is expected to grow from 1.1m units to 3m units by 2020. "There is enough headroom for everyone to grow," he said.
He expected JLR's new models, such as the Jaguar F-Type sports coupe and the popular Range Rover Evoque SUV, would help to boost sales by up to 30% via an expanded network of 160 sales outlets. The company expects its sales in China to exceed European sales in the year ending March 2014.
"The sales you have seen in the last two to three years is the direct consequence of adapting ourselves to the Chinese marketplace. It's a direct consequence of partnering with regional companies across the country and a consequence of developing our brand familiarity with our consumer base in China," he explained.
Grace expected that JLR's joint venture with China's Chery Automobiles will have a marked sales impact once it starts production in 2014 and that the alliance is "absolutely critical in our China growth strategy."
In a further sign that JLR is aiming to increase its appeal in the key Chinese market, the company is reported to be investing heavily in the development of new vehicles, including a compact Jaguar saloon to be launched in 2015 and a crossover SUV model.
The new models – described by a source close to the developments as "the big investment that the brand desperately needs" – will enable Jaguar to compete with the Mercedes C-Class and BMW's 3-series.