JLR to go cheaper down the road alongside German rivals


Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is mulling introduction of smaller luxury sedans and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to strengthen and consolidate its presence in the luxury car market in India, dominated by the German trio of BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz.

Rohit Suri, vice-president, JLR India, said: “The segment where the German players dominate have products priced around Rs 25 lakh. We are looking at smaller categories of vehicles and these products are at initial planning stages.” Currently, the Land Rover Freelander2 is the cheapest product JLR has on offer in India, tagged between Rs 34.40 lakh and Rs 40 lakh.

Luxury carmakers have started gaining the bulk of their sales from entry-level models in recent times. While BMW XI (Rs 24.50 lakh) contributed nearly a quarter to the sales of the company till October, Audi sold out its allotment of 1,000 Q3s (Rs 27.21 lakh each) for 2012 within three months of the launch. To cash in on entry-level products, BMW has lined up for launch the 1 series compact car in India for 2013-end. Mercedes, too, is set to bring its A Class compact car next year.

JLR, which recently embarked on its most ambitious product development programme to put on road 40 products over the next four-five years, is exploring options to capitalise on the entry-level luxury car segment. Global Range Rover Brand Manger Scott Dicken, while declining to share details of how many smaller products the company is looking to add to its portfolio, said: "When the industry is gradually downsizing in terms of vehicle's powertrain and other specifications, we cannot avoid it, and we are looking at all options."

The product introductions will be backed by aggressive network expansion (particularly in tier-II cities), with the number of dealerships increasing to 25 from 15 by 2013-end.

The company is also exploring options to assemble more products to offer them at competitive price points in the Indian market. "We are looking at more models to be assembled in India. We are conducting a study to find which model will make business sense”, added Suri. The Evoque is one of the models being considered for assembly. JLR assembles only the Freelander2 at the Tata Motors facility in Pimpri.

JLR on Friday launched its version of sports utility vehicle Range Rover, with the price starting from Rs 1.72 crore (ex-showroom Delhi). Depending on specifications and variants, the price could go up to Rs 1.9 crore. The vehicle will have petrol and diesel variants. While the petrol one will be powered by a five-litre V8 engine, the diesel one will have a 4.4-litre V8 engine. JLR, with a market share of eight per cent, sold 1,243 units in the luxury car market in India between April and October this year.

German counterparts BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen accounted for 14,093 units sold in the same period.