DETROIT — If Joe Eberhardt gets his way, the chip shortage that is thinning Jaguar Land Rover's inventory to historically low levels will have permanent implications.
Eberhardt, CEO of JLR's North American operations, says he never wants to go back to stocking 35,000 vehicles on the ground in the U.S., roughly a 90-day supply of Land Rover's upscale light trucks and Jaguar's luxury sedans and crossovers. Now, inventories of some of the company's hottest-selling nameplates are at 10 days, Eberhardt said.
Speaking last week on the sidelines of a media event at a racetrack in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Eberhardt said low inventories combined with strong sales have Jaguar and Land Rover dealers banking some of the highest profits per vehicle they've ever seen, and custom orders for Range Rovers and other vehicles — often sold at full price — are now approaching 30 percent of forward sales.
"The challenge for us will be to accurately forecast what the real demand is, then have the discipline to actually flex the production once we have availability to be aligned," he told Automotive News. "We don't want to push cars in the market."
Eberhardt said JLR's U.S. inventory is between 10,000 and 15,000 vehicles lower than normal.
"We are severely understocked at the moment, but it's a good problem to have. It increases our order bank," he said. "Traditionally, as we sold from stock, we had only a very few cars where we actually took orders, such as Range Rover. We have right now about 30 percent of forward volume is customer orders. That means customers are willing to wait — within reason."