Boss Ralf Speth says the British-based company plans to grow at a steady rate, rather than go after the kind of sales volumes its German rivals enjoy
Mark Tisshaw
18 November 2015

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth has cautioned against vast future sales growth for the company.

Speaking on the eve of the Los Angeles auto show, Speth said the firm “needed certain growth, but not utmost growth”, saying the firm was a “boutique” for “connoisseurs who want something different” rather than “high street”.

“We won’t sell millions, or be high street,” he said about JLR, which has trebled its annual car sales to almost half a million since Tata took over the company in 2008. 

Speth pointed out that BMW sold more in the last quarter than JLR will in the whole of 2015, but that the British-based company “still had to compete on a global basis”.

“BMW is like Park Lane or Mayfair on Monopoly,” he told Autocar, “they can have what they want. We’re the boutique: we can have cool vehicles with good designs that are good to drive and have good options.”

That quote was in reference to a question on just how big JLR could grow in terms of new models. On this subject, he added: “There are so many opportunities to expand the product portfolio, but we can’t do it all. We have to prioritise.”

Speth also revealed the firm “can meet CO2 targets with the current product portfolio”. As such, JLR does not have to expand its product line-up with smaller models to meet CO2 targets, although growth into smaller segments could still happen should the models be considered suitable for the individual brands, and be profitable.

Speth said JLR’s workforce would go beyond 40,000 people this year or next, but beyond that the company was struggling to find more people with the right skills to facilitate further growth, a problem he said was one for the UK as a whole.

The company is planning models up to around 2022/23, Speth said, but just how big a role electric vehicles will play is still being decided. Jaguar is known to be working on an electric car and the recent Evoque E project revealed JLR’s thinking around EVs.

But Speth said issues regarding weight, infrastructure, battery reliability, and battery end-of-life were still to be sorted, while a breakthrough on battery technology was anywhere between three and 10 years away, “depending on who you believe”.

That’s before cost implications to the customer are factored in. “Is the customer prepared to pay for this technology?” he said. “Give me enough money and I can fly to the moon…”

Speth also revealed that he was frustrated the Jaguar C-X75 supercar never made production, saying that it never did so because the hybrid technology intended to power it was still in its infancy and not ready for production.

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Comments
9

18 November 2015
Sensible talk for its short to mid term ambitions, although longer term its hard not to see shareholders wanting the company to be as large and profitable as BMW or Mercedes is. The more coupe-like designs do allow the brand to straddle both mainstream and the more niche model ranges where other manufacturers have gone for two eg - A4/A5, A6/A7, X3/X4 Cayman/Boxster/911 etc.

It will be interesting to see if the sales teams adopt this strategy or start pushing for volume if sales are down by trying to force the market like they did with the X-Type.

18 November 2015
“... but just how big a role electric vehicles will play is still being decided.” Pretty big really, last year in America the Telsa EV sold nearly 4 times as many cars as the Jaguar did with the XJ. I bet in the background they’re working flat out to catch up. “…But Speth said issues regarding weight, infrastructure, battery reliability, and battery end-of-life were still to be sorted..” emmm Telsa don’t see these as problems that aren’t currently being addressed and refined.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

18 November 2015
In my eyes a workable partnership with Suzuki in Europe remains the most appealing way to crack the mass market, and could pave the way towards a Land-Rover badged MINI rival and a return of the Rover (or indeed Standard) brand in the longer term. Whether this would work in India is a difficult question though.

18 November 2015
Ralf sounds a sensible and pragmatic sort of bloke.

JLR should not target BMW.

The comments about being unable to get people with the right skills shows how messed up our education sys tem has become since the 1990's.

His comments about the C-X75 stack up but he also should look at why the XJ220 failed. I was involved with a supplier on the C-X75 project and we found that the Jag engineers on it had little experience of low volume specialist engineering so costs/build methods were inappropriate - there may also been a little of what happened to the MG SV where "less capable" staff were put on it to keep them busy.

18 November 2015
The German rivals may have vast ranges, but it doesn't follow that every rival had to follow their lead, it's almost as if they have to follow each other.
One produces a 4 door coupe, so do the others. One produces an upmarket hatchback version, so do the others etc

18 November 2015
Perfect example of where Herr Speth has got to put his money where his mouth is the the lack of SVO 'customability' of even something niche as the F-Type. I can get pretty much any paint colour I want on any BMW through their Individual Manufaktur, the same for Audi and, of course, I've the Exclusive service at Porsche. Why can't we get that on a F-type ? Simple: Ralf Speth is hamstrung by history. Jag's design and marketing group needs to get out of lugubrious, 'that'll do-istic' Brummieland and get down to London to see where and how global-thinking and tastes are going and developing. Good: we now have a manual and AWD available for F-Type. Bad: we cannot customise 'halo' products like the F-Type. No wonder the poor man cannot recruit quality staff quickly enough.....

BertoniBertone

19 November 2015
It has been said in the industry that if JLR is struggling to find suitable talent, it is because the recruitment company running their careers site is perhaps not the best choice....

20 November 2015
Jaguar in particular needs to work with someone. Fiat is getting a sports car form Mazda and a pick-up truck from Mitsi. Even Mercedes is getting a pick-up from Nissan.
I could see Jag doing something with Alfa or even Mazda. LR is harder. It needs off road capability and still premium. I'd like to see LR do a pick-up and a small SUV.

24 November 2015
With Tata's business model, Jag cannot just go and spend silly money on product development if the returns are not going to yield profit, as Tata wants JLR to eventually stand on its own two feet without it's investment. Its a small volume player and has been for a long while, its something its admitted and playing it to its own advantage. there is nothing stopping them making a XJ coupe, XF coupe but the projected figures and market demand need to justify the investment and return as they don't have free flowing money like the big germans do so they need to be wise where they spend. the germans can make the cars they have since they have the money to do so and practically most of the cars in the VAG range and drive trains are the same underneath or shared extensively so product turnaround is very quick with little overheads. I'm personally glad Jag along with Ferrari are not chasing EV technology extensively as I personally don't see the current technology very feasible for the long run and there is still investment into R&D needed to be made to make the technology sustainable and better.

in terms of staffing I know someone retired who worked there and he says the quality of some of the agency staff is really poor and at times there is racism and favouritism. it's thanks to the recession that anyone working in JLR via agency was very lucky but workers didn't care if quality suffered as long as they got paid as they just get moved around to another job. personal situations are understandable and i think that's the reality at that time.

Jag's SVO is another story. overall its a joke as i cannot work out are they a professional tuning workshop or bespoke shop customizing in specialist add-ons, as they are no where near AMG or Msport standards. SVO cars seem comparable to standard sports cars from germany. Maybe SVO can be held as a benchmark if there really is skilled staff in the UK or not.

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