Indian demand for luxury car brands propels Tata-JLR exports

Signs are seen outside the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Halewood in Liverpool, northern England. Photo:Reuters

Signs are seen outside the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Halewood in Liverpool, northern England. Photo:Reuters

 

  Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has seen a 15.8 per cent hike in car exports from the UK to India in 2016, riding on the wave of growing number of "affluent buyers" in the country, according to the latest UK automotive industry figures.

India is now the eighth largest Asian market for UK car exports with JLR's Land Rover Discovery Sport, Ranger Rover Evoque, Jaguar XF, Jaguar XE and Jaguar F-Pace among the top five most popular models.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), one of the UK's largest trade associations, said the Indian demand formed part of a wider 17-year high for British car manufacturing last year.

"India is now the eighth biggest Asian market for UK car exports, with demand rising at a rapid rate as an increasing number of affluent buyers take advantage of a range of all new premium and luxury British-built cars. UK car exports to the country grew 15.8 per cent to 3,372 in 2016," SMMT said in a statement.

It also found that Indian-built car models accounted for 31,535 new car registrations in the UK, an uplift of more than 12.6 per cent on 2015.

"India and the UK have a great history of collaboration in the automotive sector and it is essential we secure mutually beneficial trade relationships in the future. India is a growing market, for the moment largely for luxury vehicles. But we face high import tariffs which makes it more difficult to sell into India," said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

"It remains to be seen the kind of trade deal the UK may look to agree with India post-Brexit. But meanwhile, it is very much about producing the right product for the market, which is in the premium category," he noted.

Meanwhile, as many as 1,727,471 vehicles rolled off production lines in the UK last year from some 15 manufacturers, an 8.8 per cent rise in total car production in Britain compared to 2015 and the highest output since 1999.

More cars are now being exported from Britain than ever before, which the SMMT highlighted was the result of investment made over recent years in world-class production facilities, cutting-edge design and technology and one of Europe's most highly skilled and productive workforces rather than any Brexit effect.

Production growth in the UK was predominantly driven by overseas demand, with global appetite for British-built cars rising by 10.3 per cent to an all-time high of 1,354,216 - a second consecutive annual record.

The European Union (EU) remains by far the country's biggest market, something that could be directly affected by the final trade deal struck as Britain exits the economic bloc.

"Brexit is a significant challenge and we want our respective governments to support our industry. The last year was undoubtedly a very, very successful year for the industry but there is a lot of uncertainty with one of our biggest market, the EU," added Hawes.