Currently reading: How Jaguar Land Rover is adapting to the coronavirus crisis
JLR UK boss says Covid-19 fallout is altering the way it does business
James Attwood, digital editor
News
4 mins read
9 June 2020

The coronavirus hit just as Jaguar Land Rover’s UK division was beginning to gain some much needed sales momentum after a tough few years. The new Range Rover Evoque was selling well and there had been strong demand for the new Defender. Autocar spoke to Rawdon Glover (below), the boss of Jaguar Land Rover UK, just before showrooms reopened on 1 June, to find out how the firm has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

How has the lockdown had an impact on Jaguar Land Rover’s dealers?

“We’ve gone through a series of stages. The first was reacting when the country went into lockdown, with our operations and factories closing. It was a new reality we had to adjust to extraordinarily quickly. The rapid response from the government was welcome, with the furlough scheme and other initiatives to support staff. That was a real positive for our retailers.

“We took the pragmatic view to try to keep some trading going, mostly taking orders and dealing with queries rather than deliveries. We’ve been looking after the needs of key workers [through vehicle sales and servicing] as well.”

What steps did you take to mitigate the impact?

“We acted quickly and tried to cut through things that were not necessary. It’s changed a lot of things.

“We quickly developed a package to put in place with retailers and we’ve looked at funding support and similar schemes. The response has been very positive: we’ve never connected more with our retailers than we have been since the lockdown.

“We’re now turning to the restart phase. We’ve made huge progress at dealer network and industry level on how to move forward. I’ve been part of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders [SMMT] and National Franchised Dealers Association [NFDA] task force developing a series of principles about how dealers should operate, ensuring they look after both customers and their workforce.

“We’re looking at proactive steps, and things such as personal protective equipment (PPE) provision, social distancing, operating, hygiene and dealing with customers in dealerships. There’s been a remarkable degree of uniformity over what the principles should be and it’s essential the industry agrees on how to move forward. The Jaguar Land Rover network is ready to resume sales in a safe working environment.”

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Can you recover the sales you’ve lost due to the lockdown?

“We’re aligned with SMMT forecasts and think the value that has gone in March and April is unlikely to bounce back. We’ve been stuck with a load of cars that were ordered but we weren’t able to deliver before the lockdown, so that’s our first priority. There will likely be a significant reduction in the industry for the whole year. I don’t think it will be recovered this calendar year, but I believe the industry will bounce back.”

How much of a blow for Jaguar Land Rover UK has this been?

“We’ve got strong order books, with more orders this year than the same time last year. That reflects the products we’ve launched. The new Evoque has been a strong seller and we’ve had really strong Defender orders. We’ve also had a good response to the two plug-in hybrid models we announced recently, with significant interest from fleet customers.

“That’s a real positive: fleet orders have held up much better than private sales, and with the I-Pace and our new hybrids, we’ve now got a better fleet offering than ever. But this year is likely to be a very low year, so we’ve got to cut our cloth accordingly and manage costs to reflect the new reality.”

You’ve pushed your online services during lockdown. Could the current crisis accelerate online sales in the long term?

“Across the whole industry, the internet has been increasing in importance for many years, both in terms of product information and e-commerce. We’re working to allow customers to go further into the buying process online and rolling out enhancements to our platform to help that. That’s accelerated in a period when customers can’t go to retailers.

“We’re likely to see more digital offerings in future, and not just transactions. We’re looking to do other things virtually, such as product demonstrations and handovers. We can do virtual appointments on video calls and cover a lot of the areas you previously would in a showroom visit.

“We’re looking at making every stage of the sales process as contactless as possible, down to the signing of documents. It used to be necessary to go through all the finance paperwork on the day of collection but, since early March, we’ve been trialling a service to do that online with a virtual signature.

“So customers can process it remotely, and all they need to do upon their car being delivered or visiting a dealer is show some ID.

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Comments
1

9 June 2020
Goin cap in hand to the tax payer for a bil , thats how there adapting!??!???!!

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