Currently reading: How JLR hit record revenue per car in Q4
Despite all the semiconductor supply issues, JLR's push to build more higher-end models yielded impressive results

Jaguar Land Rover received an astonishing £68,000 from each car built and sold in the three months ending 31 December as Range Rover models dominated sales.

The figure was up from an already impressive £61,000 from the previous quarter and reflects the extraordinary juggling JLR has overseen to go about its normal business in the face of chip shortages globally. “This is probably the richest per unit data we’ve had for more than 11 years,” JLR chief financial officer Adrian Mardell said on a call with analysts on Monday.

The extreme focus on higher-end models didn’t quite push JLR into profitability but the £9 million loss was far better than the massive £302 million loss the company posted the previous quarter ending 31 September.

The focus on high-end models saw Range Rovers (including the Range Rover Sport, Velar and Evoque) account for 56% of wholesales for the three months, compared with 11% for Discovery-badged models and 14% for Jaguar models. Even the Land Rover Defender had to take a back seat at 17%, compared with 26% for the previous three months.

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The reason for the bumper quarter in terms of revenue-per-model was twofold, Mardell told investors. First was the need to prioritise cars for the scarce chips and that meant ignoring cheaper models.

“We’re consciously not allowing customers to order lowest-value derivatives because they’re the last vehicles to be built and we do not want customers to wait 12 months or more,” said Mardell. “Building the cars that sell quickest and most valuably has worked very well.”

If you wondered how the chip crisis was affecting prices, then there was a big clue. That meant JLR barely built any Jaguar XE or XFs at all, with sales figures showing that the few they did build were all in its China joint venture, meant for Chinese customers.

Second, JLR was switching over production from its outgoing Range Rover to the highly anticipated new version. Mardell said there was a “huge bias” in production for the outgoing model to make sure all customer orders were fulfilled. “That really has lifted the average revenue,” said Mardell. The new Range Rover has yet to filter through in results, although JLR said it has 31,000 orders for the model within its overall 155,000 order backlog amid the chip shortage. Defender is currently at 37,000, up from 33,000 in the previous three months.

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JLR production from January to March will be dominated by the Range Rover Sport as the company clears orders for the outgoing version ahead of production of the new one, said Mardell.

The focus on high-end models meant that JLR got a £293 million boost from what car makers call the ‘mix’ – ie selling higher-priced versions. It also saved money on what’s called variable marketing, which includes discounts. No need to entice people to buy your cars when there’s such a shortage that every model built finds a willing customer, and most are built to order anyway. JLR spent just 1.6% of revenue on variable marketing, compared with around 5% normally.

The negative hits to the bottom line included higher manufacturing costs, as JLR wasn’t able to enact efficiencies with the manufacturing capacity only at 60% (car factories are more efficient when they run closer to capacity).

Also affecting finances was the fact that, now all the work is largely finished on the MLA High platform underpinning the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, it had to book more of its R&D cost as an expense.

Under accounting rules, if engineers are working flat out on a new platform, the company can ‘capitalise’ those costs – ie book them as an asset, rather than an expense. That will increasingly happen “over the next three to six months”, said Mardell, when more engineers are working on the forthcoming EMA platform for smaller Land Rovers and the Jaguar electric platform, known as Panthera internally.

JLR also had to deal with that old bugbear of unreliability, which cost it £33 million for the quarter for recalls on “pre-2018 model year” cars. The incredible boost in revenue per vehicle meant that JLR hit a break-even point for just 73,000 vehicles for the quarter, meaning anything sold over that would be profit. It got tantalisingly close at 68,200.

Given it has booked losses on sales of far more than that in the past, it proves that, one, the company’s Refocus cost-saving strategy is working, and two, that if you’re forced to make fewer cars, then selling the most profitable ones is not a bad strategy. A lesson that nearly all car makers, not just JLR, have learned in an extraordinary year.

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Add a comment…
Cobnapint 2 February 2022
I don't think I've ever known a car manufacturer who's finances swing so wildly between being in the black or
in the red.
We've had regular make or break vehicles. Just when are they going to stabilise?
Harry P 2 February 2022

JLR appear to have little interest in their loyal customers.  Short term profiteering may pay off when supply is short, but it will also be remembered when the supply comes back and customers have gone elsewhere and unlikely to return.     

Vee_8 3 February 2022

Indeed... my lowly £70k new Discovery order has been languishing for over 9 months now with no sign of being built. I understand the desire to run out the RR/RRS however the 'tricks' they are employing at customers expense is just contemptuous towards them. 

xxxx 2 February 2022

As they had one of the best BEVs in the segment 2 years ago, ahead of anything German, hopefully that tech lead will be reflected in future models. Do start to writtle down that waiting list though

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