A decline in Europe of 3.4% and North America of 2.4% for JLR contributed to a weaker 2017 fourth-quarter net income for Tata of around £189 million. This figure is far short of Bloomberg's estimate of £261m. JLR’s profit before tax for the period was £192m, reports Bloomberg.
Despite the wider downturn, both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands posted stronger year-on-year sales in the UK of 20% and 18% growth respectively. However, January 2018 figures are less encouraging - Jaguar is down 19.3% compared with the same month last year, while Land Rover has shown more modest growth of 4.3%.
“We have delivered credible financial results in a challenging period, during which JLR has continued to over-proportionally invest in long-term growth and autonomous, connected and electric technologies. Despite headwinds and uncertainty in some markets, JLR still delivered increased unit sales as we continued the launch schedule for new models,” said CEO Ralf Speth.
The output of JLR’s Halewood plant will be cut in light of slower sales of the two brands, although a JLR spokesman attributed the drop to Brexit uncertainty and consumer confusion over diesel.
A reported slowdown in deliveries of the Evoque and Range Rover Sport was also to blame. A facelifted version of the Range Rover Sport began deliveries this month, while a facelifted Evoque arrives in 2019, with a hybrid variant mooted for production.
“JLR has delivered another record-breaking year in vehicle sales in what is now the seventh year of successive growth for Britain's largest car manufacturer,” said the spokesman. “However, the automotive industry continues to face a range of challenges which are adversely affecting consumer confidence.”
JLR sales boss Andy Goss recently described the newly introduced diesel car taxes as “counterintuitive”; the new taxes apply to any car that does not meet new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) step 2 real-world testing standards, which will be introduced in 2020. This means that no cars can be exempt from this tax yet, although the tax itself does not come into effect until 1 April.