JLR returns to YoY growth in Q4 auto sales

Strong sales in China helped UK-based luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover report a 12.4% jump in retail sales for the Jan-Mar period of 2021.

China sales were up 127% compared to a year ago when that market was heavily impacted by Covid-19. Sales in North America were also up year-on-year (+10.4%), while other regions remain lower than pre-Covid levels, including Overseas markets (-10.0%), the UK (-6.8%) and Europe (-4.9%).

Total retail sales came in at 123,483 vehicles during the three month period.

Jaguar Land Rover will report audited results for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 in the second half of May.

“The company’s sales performance has been in line with expectations and Jaguar Land Rover anticipates reporting significant positive free cash flow in Q4 and break-even to positive cash flow for the full year,” it said.

The Tata Motors-owned company said its resurrected brand, Land Rover Defender, contributed significantly to the overall year-over-year growth, with 16,963 units sold in the quarter.

Other Land Rover models with increased sales in the quarter include the Land Rover Discovery Sport (+28.6%), Range Rover Sport (+20.7%) and Range Rover (+15.8%). Jaguar models up in the quarter include XF (+28.4%), XE (+5.6%) and F-TYPE (+55.8%).

Despite this, overall retail sales for the full year were still down 13.6% at 439,588 vehicles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Growth in China was strong, with retails reaching 111,206 vehicles, up 23.4% year-on-year.

However, sales in other regions have not yet recovered to pre-Covid levels with North America down 14.3% and the UK, Europe, and Overseas markets each down more than 20%.

By model, the new Land Rover Defender contributed 45,244 sales in the year, while other models were down year-onyear, reflecting the impact of Covid, particularly earlier in the year.

Jaguar Land Rover said it continued to roll out electrification technology across its model range.

“Twelve of the company’s 13 nameplates are now available with an electrified option, with plugin hybrids (PHEV) available in 8 models and mild hybrids (MHEV) in 11 models.

“As a result, the mix of electrified vehicles retailed in the fourth quarter grew to 62%, with 2% for the allelectric Jaguar I-PACE, 7% PHEV and 53% MHEV. For the full year, the retail mix of electrified vehicles was 51%, including 4% for the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, 5% PHEV and 43% MHEV,” it said.

Felix Brautigam, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Commercial Officer, said he was happy that the company had returned to year-on-year growth on a quarterly basis before the year was out.

“Encouragingly, the steady recovery throughout the year follows the direction of our Reimagine strategy: the quality of our sales improved even more than the volume, with a focus on our most profitable car lines, higher specifications “and lower incentives.

Despite very different Covid restrictions worldwide we also achieved our objective of balanced sales across our key markets,” he added.

He said he expects the refreshed Discovery and updated Velar, which is now also available as plug-in hybrid, will strengthen Land Rover sales further.

“At Jaguar, we were encouraged by the sustained sales performance of XE, XF and FTYPE, as customers responded positively to our new designs and comprehensive upgrades. Order intakes for the just-released new F-PACE and E-PACE are promising.

“March also marked an historic moment – the 60th anniversary of the legendary E-type, which was ground-breaking when it was launched in 1961. Such a spirit of innovation also drives our reimagination of Jaguar as an all-electric modern luxury brand,” he added.

At 31 March 2021, the company had around £4.8 billion of cash and short-term investments (unaudited) and around £6.7 billion of available liquidity, including the £1.9 billion undrawn committed credit facility (RCF) maturing in July 2022. Furthermore, the company has now extended £1.31 billion of the RCF to March 2024.