Jaguar Land Rover sold a record 521,571 vehicles in its fiscal year that ended March 31, with Jaguar accounting for 94,449 sales, a rise of 23 percent on the year before. Jaguar is poised to do even better this year because of the recent arrival of its first crossover, the F-Pace, which the automaker believes will become its best-seller of all time. JLR sales boss Andy Goss explained why while also revealing the changes JLR made to get its China business back on track. Goss spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
JLR boosted global sales 13 percent to a new record in its 2015-16 fiscal year. Do you foresee setting another record in the current financial year because of the recent arrival of the Jaguar F-Pace?
I am not going to predict, but we could do well. The F-Pace will be a huge element of the increase. More than 90 percent [of the crossover's sales] should be conquest. It is a true global car. Commercially, it's probably the most important Jaguar since the E-Type. We've got huge expectations.
Will China be its biggest market?
China, the UK, the U.S. – they are all going to be very close. We've got quite an even footprint. China will have a big increase and will take a lot of product for sure. But the U.S. is still the largest SUV market in the world, and the car is very well positioned there.
Overall sales in China have picked up again, but JLR slumped there last year. What happened?
BMW created turbulence [from a retail perspective] when they wrote a check for 800 million euros to its franchise network [to compensate overstocked dealers] and effectively supported their network's profitability. That led other networks to ask for the same thing. But Land Rover has been phenomenally profitable for our retailers so by sitting down with them and talking through the future and the products we settled everybody down. Also, the economy had become a bit weaker and there was a bit of a credit squeeze.
How have you turned around things?
We localized Range Rover Evoque [production], appealed to a new set of customers, and learned many lessons. We also launched the locally built Land Rover Discovery Sport in November and that has been hugely successful. Now we're on a strong growth path again.