Jaguar Land Rover is on the verge of some unprecedented changes. The company used to make nearly all of its cars in the UK but it now has a plant in China and plans to open factories in Brazil and Slovakia. It also will hand over some production to Magna Steyr’s plant in Graz, Austria. In addition, Land Rover is not the only brand in the family making SUVs as Jaguar is about to launch its first one next year. JLR CEO Ralf Speth said that both of the big moves will help rather than hurt the automaker. He explained why in an interview with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri at the Frankfurt auto show last month.
Is Jaguar Land Rover at risk of losing some of its British-ness and some of its premium-ness as it expands its footprint to China, Slovakia and Brazil and increases its sales to an estimated 1 million from 450,000 last year?
At JLR we do not plan for the sake of volume, we want to achieve a sustainable profitable growth. Jaguars and Land Rovers will have the same quality and technical content no matter where we build them. What is crucial is that the heart and the soul -- the engineering and the design capabilities -- will always be in the UK. We will have local development departments [in the non-UK markets] and use feedback from customers so we can best translate their requirements to our core engineering teams in the UK.
Analysts say Land Rover’s profits have offset Jaguar’s losses during its recent lean years. When will Jaguar become profitable on its own?
We don’t separate the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. We are one company. As in each company, you have a line that is more profitable than the other. What is important is that we deliver a good result for the company as a whole.
Last year, you sold one Jaguar for every three Land Rovers. Will sales become more balanced in the future?
Land Rover, based on its bigger base, will remain larger than Jaguar. We have a certain opportunity to fix and flex in between the products.