Opinion

'Bad start to 2019 shows that JLR has a challenging future ahead'

News of the recent job losses and falling profits at JLR should be the wake-up call the company needs, says Steve Fowler

OPINION Defender

We’ve enjoyed reporting on Jaguar Land Rover’s good times during its remarkable turnaround under Tata ownership: booming sales – with production rising from 241,000 cars in 2011 to 614,000 – profits soaring and the workforce rising to 44,000 globally.

So last week’s announcement of huge losses with a 6.9 per cent drop in sales resulting in a programme of £2.5billion-worth of cuts – including 4,500 job losses – was incredibly sad, if not exactly unexpected. 

JLR annouce 4,500 job losses

So what – or who – is to blame? CEO Dr Ralf Speth told us: “The automotive industry is facing unprecedented multiple external political and regulatory disruptions and technological changes simultaneously.

“Just to name a few: Brexit, China, China/US trade, CO2, diesel, diesel taxes especially in the UK, taxes and duties, WLTP and I could go on.” So the perfect storm, it seems. And as JLR reminds us, it’s neither big enough (about the quarter of the size of its big rivals) nor small enough to ride these choppy waves. 

One senior JLR exec told me the company has just “simply grown too quickly” – something I put to Dr Speth. “Not at all,” he said. “We haven’t grown too quickly, we’ve grown in a very organic way.” I suspect many of the 4,500 soon-to-be former JLR employees might disagree.

Among the news of further investment in electrification of JLR’s range at plants in the Midlands and the promise that we’ll see a more resilient, high-performance JLR in the future, there was no mention of learning from mistakes – of which many have been made. That was sorely missing from the carefully crafted ‘messaging’.

I hope this is a more analytical JLR, one that launches a new Defender (and other promised new models) for sound financial reasons rather than romantic ones. We’ve heard whispers that ensuring that car makes more money is one of the reasons it’s been delayed. That’s the type of brave thinking we need to see more of.

For more of Steve's thoughts on the motoring world, check out his previous columns here...

Recommended

Matt Becker joins Jaguar Land Rover as Mike Cross retires
Matt Becker
Jaguar

Matt Becker joins Jaguar Land Rover as Mike Cross retires

Former Aston Martin and Lotus engineer Matt Becker joins Jaguar Land Rover as JLR legend Mike Cross retires
20 Jan 2022
Jaguar Land Rover’s Nick Rogers to leave the company
Nick Rogers
Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover’s Nick Rogers to leave the company

JLR's Executive Director of Product Engineering moves on after 37 years
22 Nov 2021
Jaguar Land Rover files £302 million loss for Q2 2021
Land Rover badge
Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover files £302 million loss for Q2 2021

The company mainly attributes the loss to reduced production capacity brought on by the global semiconductor shortage
1 Nov 2021
The scariest cars we've ever driven
Scariest cars we've ever driven - header image
Best cars & vans

The scariest cars we've ever driven

As Halloween approaches, the Auto Express team have cast their minds back to the scariest cars they’ve had to endure
29 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Next-generation Mercedes E-Class to stick with combustion engines
Mercedes E-Class render
Mercedes E-Class

Next-generation Mercedes E-Class to stick with combustion engines

Mercedes is planning on launching a new E-Class in 2023 and it'll come with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains
21 Jan 2022
New 2022 Land Rover Defender 130 revealed in patent images
Land Rover Defender 130
Land Rover Defender

New 2022 Land Rover Defender 130 revealed in patent images

Stretched Land Rover Defender 130 eight-seater leaked in patent images, showcasing design in full
21 Jan 2022
Best electric vans 2022
Best electric vans
Best cars & vans

Best electric vans 2022

We reveal the best electric vans for sale or lease in the UK right now
7 Jan 2022