Sales of plug-in hybrid Discovery Sport and Evoque models produced in Merseyside are helping Jaguar Land Rover recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Tony McDonough reports
Carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) saw global sales plummet by almost a quarter in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – but its recovery is gathering pace.
JLR, which employs around 4,000 people at the Halewood factory in Merseyside producing the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models, enjoyed a second successive quarter-on-quarter recovery in sales in the three months to December 31.
And the company’s resurgence is being driven by sales of electrified vehicles including the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque PHEVs, both assembled at Halewood. A total of 53% of the company’s retail sales for the three-month period were electrified.
In October to December, the company sold 128,469 vehicles, 13.1% higher than the 113,569 vehicles sold in the preceding quarter, but down 9% on the same period in 2019. China sales were particularly encouraging, up 20.2% on the prior quarter and 19.1% year-on-year.
Retail sales in most other regions also continued to recover and were up significantly on the prior quarter in North America (+31.7%), Overseas (+26.6%) and Europe (+20.5%). However, sales in these regions have not yet recovered to pre-COVID levels with sales for the quarter lower than a year ago in North America (-17.2%), Overseas (-20.0%), Europe (-16.3%) and the UK (-8.9%).
For the calendar year 2020, Jaguar Land Rover retail sales were 425,974, down 23.6% on 2019, reflecting the industry impact of COVID-19. In the first half of the year plants were shut down for more than two months, including the Halewood site.
However, the company has since seen sales increase quarter-on-quarter by over 53% in the quarter ended September 30, followed by the 13.1% increase in the most recent quarter.
JLR says it remains committed to its electrification strategy and has a growing portfolio of electrified Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and mild hybrid (MHEV) vehicles, as well as continuing to offer the latest diesel and petrol engines.
Following the significant expansion over the year, electrified options now extend to 12 models across the Jaguar and Land Rover portfolios, with PHEV available on eight vehicle lines and MHEV on 11, as well as the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE.
Felix Brautigam, JLR chief commercial officer, said: “2020 was a year of two halves and, although COVID-19 continues to significantly impact the global auto industry, we are delighted to end the year with a second consecutive quarter of sales recovery.
“Our performance in China, the region least impacted by COVID-19 in the most recent quarter, has been particularly encouraging with our sales there growing on both a year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter basis.
“Other markets are also showing strong signs of recovery, despite second COVID waves across the globe. We are well-placed in keeping our retailers open for business with online sales solutions, even when their doors are closed through lockdowns.”