Nobody who supports innovative automotive manufacturers could fail to be depressed by today’s news from Jaguar Land Rover.
The whacking loss of £673m in 2008 (and that’s disregarding the significant pension and actuarial losses) is in stark contrast to 2007’s profits of £641m.
Much of this loss will have been caused by JLR’s need to continue to invest in new technology and new models. Sales and showroom profits may fall away, but the need to keep expensive new model programmes rolling is paramount.
When Rover sales collapsed in 1998, the company ran up a loss of around £750m in 1999. This mostly because it was engaged in engineering the new Mini and new Range Rover from scratch, as well as working on a new V6 petrol engine and the Rover 75 estate.
JLR may have significant problems, but poor product isn’t one of them. Instead it is blighted by its lack of product integration. Land Rover has four distinct platforms (Defender, Freelander, Disco/RR Sport and Range Rover) and two factories (Solihull and Halewood).
With the upcoming death of the X-Type, Jaguar is in a better position with two distinct platforms (XF and the XJ/XK) but it is also has one basic family of running gear and one factory at Castle Bromwich.