Exclusive: Jaguar Land Rover boss sets the record straight on thefts, insurance, parts supply, electrification and more

JLR’s UK managing director, Patrick McGillycuddy, talks to us about the issues facing the business and its big future plans…

JLR interview

It may have been a tumultuous year for JLR in 2023, but the company just revealed strong sales across the board and finances that are in decent health at last, too.

Jaguar Land Rover posted record third quarter revenues in the 2023/24 financial year totalling £7.4bn (up 22 per cent compared to the previous year), with the firm announcing its highest quarterly profit since 2017. Adrian Mardell, CEO of JLR, said: “Sales of our modern luxury vehicles hit new records in the quarter, and we are excited about the strong client interest for our soon to launch Range Rover Electric.”

However, plenty of challenges remain with vocal owners complaining about Range Rover vehicle thefts, the rising cost of insurance – if they can get insurance – and parts shortages keeping some cars off the road for months. Then there’s rumoured delays to the bold plans for the reinvention of Jaguar, a slow transition to electrification with the first all-electric Range Rover not due until the end of this year (with the threat of fines for companies not hitting the 22 per cent sales targets for EVs in 2024) and JLR House of Brands getting into full swing with a change in the relationship the company has with its dealers.

It's quite a time for Patrick McGillycuddy to take the reigns as managing director of the UK sales business, which is exactly what he did in July last year after a series of senior sales roles at JLR, Volkswagen Group and General Motors. With Auto Express’s inbox bulging with emails from Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover owners – many of whom feeling their relationship with the brands was at an all-time low – McGillycuddy agreed to an exclusive chat with us to answer all the difficult questions you’ve been asking – starting with the subject of car security and its impact on insurance.

Q&A: Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director, Patrick McGillycuddy   

Q: Why are JLR products targeted so much by thieves and why are they seen as easy targets?

A: “This is an industry issue and while thefts are increasing, ours are decreasing. We have got highly-organised, well-funded criminal gangs who are targeting our high-value vehicles. You've got either full vehicle theft, or you've got theft for stripping the car apart and we have both factors happening. A lot of that is theft of cars and parts for export. These are seriously well-organised gangs that are well-funded who really use technology - so that's, ultimately, the challenge we've got. It's not unique to us.”

Q: What are you doing about it?

A: “We have to acknowledge it is a concern right now – it’s a pain point for us and we absolutely recognise that. Vehicle thefts have continued to increase but our statistics show that our thefts are declining significantly. Range Rover thefts are down 27 per cent. Range Rover Sport down 29 per cent so the theft volumes and a number of cars being stolen is dramatically reducing.

“That is on the back of a few things: One – our newer product. If we look at new Range Rover, we've had only 10 of those stolen since launch. So 0.08 per cent of those have been stolen, of which none were through a keyless attack entry method.

“When we look at Range Rover Sport, there's been 14 of those stolen since launch and that's less than 0.1 per cent. And again, zero keyless attack on those. Land Rover Defender, we've had 134 stolen since launch and that's nearly 46,000 cars on the road. And again, absolutely no theft through keyless attack.

“All those cars have ultra-wideband technology keys on them. We were the first manufacturer to introduce ultra-wideband technology. We started that with model year 18, depending on when each new car went through a model year uplift and there have been zero thefts of those cars through a relay attack method.

“There’s a second attack method where once you get in, you can attack the control module. With our latest cars, we're able to lock that down and make that not a way to access the car. And that technology we developed on newer cars, we're rolling back to our older cars where it's compatible.

“So we've already applied that upgrade to over 80,000 cars and we're rolling it out over the rest of the car park that's compatible – another 96,000 vehicles. But anything that can have that technology update applied is available for our clients to come in and have the work done completely free of charge. We will even go to the client if that's more convenient to them.

“We’re writing to clients, because clearly some of these cars are older and we may not have a direct relationship with the client, so we work with the DVSA to give us the data to write to the client. We can only write to them once so I would encourage any reader who is not known to us who has a car that qualifies contact their local retailer or contact us and we will try and sort it out for them.

“Once we've done the security update, we have had zero recorded thefts of through relay attack methods or through this body control module attack method.”

Q: What effect is this having on insurance premiums for your clients – surely they should be coming down?

A: “We've been engaging with the insurance industry for some time to understand the data. They're a data-driven business, they're looking at risks, they're working out their exposures and going, "What does the data tell me?" We're working with them to talk about the security of our latest vehicles, the data around theft volumes, the data around once we apply the security updates, what that does, and we're working with them to go, "How does that data now inform your risk appetite and the risk profile of what you're prepared to cover?” It’s an ongoing conversation.”

Q: What about owners of cars that can’t be upgraded in that way?

A: “We're working hard to understand what, because of the compatibility, the engineering solution we can retrospectively apply to those is. We're also then working with insurers to ask, "Okay, if the software update is not an available option, what solutions work for you to view this as an acceptable risk and how do we deploy that? How do we support our clients in executing that?" But there are also some fundamental basics around keeping your car secure, double locking, keep your keys in a secure location, don't hide them, use our InControl app.”

Q: How far back will you go to support owners?

A: “What's clear is when we look at theft data, it's the four, five-year-old cars: old generation Range Rover, old generation Range Rover Sport, so clearly that's where we targeted those security enhancements first and now we've rolled that back across all eligible vehicles. We then look at what's the next cohort of vehicles where we don't have a compatible solution, what do we do? So we'll go back as far as we need to, to look after our clients.”

Patrick McGillycuddy - JLR

Q: Have you seen cancelled orders as a result of the rising cost of insurance?

A:We have seen some cancellations where customers look for insurance and either it's not a quote they're prepared to pay, or depending on a combination of the car, where they live and driver history they can't achieve a quote.

“It’s a relatively low number, but it's still an uncomfortable number. So we need to work through that. But when we look at the demand for our product it’s still good. We still have strong order banks, we still have retail sales up significantly last year and we started the year relatively well as well. So there was good, people want our products. And this is the point that if people want our products, we just need to make sure there's no impediments to enjoying the vehicle, which means we have to work with the insurance industry to make sure we've got the right products to suit the right car, for the right driver for where they are.”

Q: You launched your own insurance product to help owners get insured at a reasonable premium, yet you’ve been refusing some owners cover and others say it’s too expensive. Why?

A: “There's a multifaceted answer to that question. I guess one is to the point around motor insurance at large – prices have gone up; 50 per cent is the sector average. When we look at our sector of premium and luxury vehicles it's more like a 60 increase. So it’s a higher value product with higher value parts, etc. If we then look at our insurance product, so for Range Rover, Defender, Discovery, Jaguar brands, we launched that in October 2023. We've provided more than 13,000 quotes and this month alone about 6,000 quotes with an average of quote of less than £200 a month. We’ve seen around 20 per cent take up of that.

“We’re learning all the time here: what's all the data telling us from when we went in October to where we are now? What are the factors, what's the quotability? All those things are getting better and better all the time. And if there's a situation where we've made changes to how we're devising the policy, we will then revisit customers that who may not have been quoted or we may come back with a more competitive quote on learning all this information.”

Q: Why should your customers use your brand’s own insurance product?

A: “For us it's about making sure it's not just a standard insurance product; it's making sure it's aligned to our brands and what our brands want to offer. It's a monthly subscription so you can pay monthly, you can opt out whenever you'd like. It absolutely guarantees a like-for-like courtesy car in the unlikely event of an accident and needing any repairs. Obviously with genuine parts. So giving you all those reassurance and peace of mind factors around an insurance product.”

Q: On the subject of parts, there have been numerous issues reported about long delays in sourcing parts for JLR cars, affecting insurance costs and your customers directly. What’s gone wrong?

A: “Part of our learning and insight through the semiconductor issue is to understand what's our global supply chain management. How does it look, how does it operate and how do we ensure we future proof our global parts supply chain?

“When we looked at the way we're historically structured, we had a number of different warehouses in the UK. So the UK is our global hub, everything comes into UK and then we distribute back out. We had several disparate warehouses for lots of different reasons. So we made a strategic decision to consolidate into basically a super warehouse set up in the middle of the country that’s two massive million square foot warehouses.

“Once we're through the transition that will give us a world-class distribution facility that will ensure better availability, faster delivery and all those elements. The reality of what we've seen is that impact of consolidation has created disruption. So it's impeded our ability to get parts into our new warehouse and then getting parts out to our partners to look after our clients' vehicles. It's been a journey of integrating and solving all the operational issues.

We are resolving the majority of those logistical issues now. So if I look at our parts availability this quarter compared to last quarter is significantly better. To get us to where we want it to be, will take another few months.”

Q: We’ve had readers telling us their cars have been off the road for months waiting for parts, with reports of up to 10,000 cars sat at dealers. What are the numbers now?

A: “When we did our Q2 results in November, Adrian [Mardell, JLR CEO] commented on the number of cars off the road. For the UK that was about 6,000 cars. That's now less than 2,000 cars where our clients’ cars are off the road due to availability parts. Clearly that's not the same 2,000 cars. We've been working through that, but we are managing that number. Clearly that's still too high a number and we're driving that down.”

Q: How long will I have to wait for a new Range Rover or Land Rover if I order one now?

A: “Our order bank is still very robust. It's predominantly made up of Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender; that's about 75 per cent of our order bank. If you were to walk into one of our retailer partners today, they'd probably quote you six to nine months for a Range Rover delivery, six to nine months for a Range Rover Sport delivery, and four to five months for a Defender delivery.”

Q: Is the first new all-electric Jaguar we’re expecting to see this year still on track?

A: “We will have prototypes on the road this year and it is our intention that you will see something this year.”

Q: And what about the current line-up – will that continue and will I-Pace still overlap with the new models?

A: “We're really proud to have the Jaguar brand. We're really proud of the product portfolio we've got. We have lots of loyal customers who enjoy driving our product and we've got a retail network who enjoy selling the product. And actually we're quite excited about our plans for this year for the Jaguar brand and how we'll go to market as a Jaguar brand this year.

“There's no definitive overlap plan for I-Pace. What we need to work through as we prepare to launch the new products is where are we with the old products and then how do we manage that transition point.”

Q: Will there be a firm stop for Jaguar, then a gap before launching the new Jaguar?

A: “Yes. The whole point is we are absolutely taking the brand to a different place.”

Q: Is the factory at Castle Bromwich still making XE and XF?

A: “At the moment it is, yes. The last XE, XF and F-Type production will be in June. These models have been removed from our configurator as we’re now only building pre-specified stock.“

Q: Is the electric Range Rover still on track for later this year?

A: “Yes. We’ve opened a wait list and will move to reservations soon. When we bring the Range Rover Electric to market, first and foremost it's a Range Rover. Then it's electrified. So we will have all the capabilities of what a Range Rover could do today, but completely electrified. And again, I think it'll be the best personification of the Range Rover ever with silent drivetrain, all the power, all the capability, it’s just phenomenal. And we’ve committed to every Land Rover having a battery electric option by 2030.”

Q: Do you back SMMT’s call for incentives like a drop in VAT on EVs to boost private sales?

A: “From our perspective, it's that we need to have the right product proposition for our clients. So when we launch our electric vehicles, is it appealing to our clients? Then it's working with SMMT and government around infrastructure – for us it’s how do we help make sure the infrastructure is there to help the adoption of vehicles? And when you look at the disparity between retail and fleet and EV adoption, you can clearly see where incentives work. So would it be advantageous? Yes. Is it critical in the medium to long term? No.”

Q: With only one full EV in the JLR line-up, the Jaguar I-Pace, will JLR hit the government’s targets of 22 per cent of sales to be full EVs in 2022?

A: “It's 22 per cent this year, rising to 80 per cent by 2030. Clearly there are a number of ways for each company to manage that. We're confident over that horizon we can achieve all the targets we need to achieve.”

Q: So you won’t pay any fines in 2024 or 2025?

A: “Correct.”

Q: Will you be moving your dealers to an agency model with your clients contracting directly with you rather than their dealers?

A: “Our intention is at the back end of this year, we'll move to a direct-to-sales model for new car sales with our partners our helping fulfil that experience – and that will be across the whole business. We're working with our partners around the transition to that: what does that all look like? That's been a piece of work for the past two years and it's continuing to be an active piece of work now.

“If we think about where we want our brands to be – modern luxury brands – it's about the experience, and we need humans to deliver that experience as much as we need great online experiences. The in-store experience is talking to experts – passionate, proud product and brand experts. It's an important part of choosing your right vehicle and selecting to buy it, as well as your ownership experience. So we are absolutely not replacing humans and saying, go to a terminal and order your car.”

Q: When will we see the new JLR corporate identity rolled out to dealers?

A: “We're working through what that looks like and how we work with our partners in terms of how we start to transform the way clients see us, both when they are on the outside of the building but also when they come into the building. Internally we’ve started to make most of the changes already. So I guess we're going inside out. If you come into our network today, the way the teams show up is different - it's more relaxed.

“We’re working with our partners to organise the showroom in a House of Brands structure. So you've got all the Range Rover family together, you've got all the Defender family together, the Discovery family and the Jaguar family. We'll start to bring that to life more and more over the next year or two in terms of that zoning, and the branding, and the look and feel.”

Click here to read all the latest about Jaguar's all-electric future...

Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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