China has emerged as the largest market for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in the first half of this financial year, edging past Europe, UK and the US. In the first six months of 2012-13, retail sales in China were a couple of hundred units more than the second largest market, Europe. In terms of volume sales of JLR though, China had finished fourth behind Europe, UK and the US.
Ever since Tata Motors took over British premium car brands Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008, its sales in China saw a dramatic rise. JLR sales volume in China grew six times in four years to cross the 50,000-mark in 2011-12, prompting its management to forge a local joint venture to start full-fledged manufacturing in China.
Two weeks ago, the $1.9 billion joint venture between Jaguar Land Rover and Chery Automobile Company to make JLR cars and utility vehicles in China got regulatory approval in China. With the official go-ahead in place, the alliance is expected to roll out the first made-in-China Land Rover by 2014.
Local manufacturing will bring down taxes and logistic costs substantially, which in turn will make JLR more affordable in the local market, further enhancing its sales prospects.
UK’s Birmingham Post last week reported that JLR and Chery are developing a plant with a 130,000 annual production capacity in the city of Changshu, 100 kilometres from Shanghai. A recruitment campaign for jobs in the joint venture entity for manufacturing, sales, finance and product development started in July, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, in India, the country of JLR’s parent company Tata Motors, its sales volumes are less than one tenth those in China, although it is growing at a rapid pace. JLR commissioned a small Land Rover assembly facility in Pune in May 2011. Last year, JLR sales in India grew two-and-a-half times at 2,288 units.