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

Jaguar Land Rover Aluminium Upcycling initiative to slash carbon emissions
Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover Aluminium Upcycling initiative to slash carbon emissions

The use of end-of-life vehicles in addition to other recycled sources, will form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s drive towards zero-emission production
20 Aug 2020
New baby electric Jaguar to take on Tesla Model 3
Jaguar

New baby electric Jaguar to take on Tesla Model 3

The new compact electric Jaguar is likely to sit between a saloon and an SUV in appearance and our exclusive images preview how the finished model cou…
20 Aug 2020
Jaguar Land Rover names Thierry Bollore new CEO
Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover names Thierry Bollore new CEO

Ex short-term Renault boss, Thierry Bollore will take the reins at JLR as the company enters a new era.
28 Jul 2020
The end of touchscreens? Jaguar Land Rover develops contactless infotainment
Jaguar

The end of touchscreens? Jaguar Land Rover develops contactless infotainment

JLR's predictive touch software uses sensors and artificial intelligence to control the infotainment screen without contact
23 Jul 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020