Demand for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) cars in China remains strong after the UK manufacturer posted a 58% increase in second quarter sales in the world's largest car market, reports The Guardian newspaper.
China's interest in luxury British brands has been the subject of investor disquiet in recent months, with shares in retailers Mulberry and Burberry bearing the brunt, but Asian appetite for JLR products – from the Range Rover Evoque to the Jaguar XJ – appears undimmed. The Indian-owned car maker, which employs 24,000 people in the UK, said it sold 17,152 vehicles in the three months to September. Across the group, JLR sold 84,749 cars, up 29% on the same period last year as pre-tax profits doubled to £431M.
JLR's chief executive, Ralf Speth, said the company had seen "strong sales across all our key markets." China is JLR's third largest market, behind the US and the UK, with the latter also posting a strong performance as sales climbed by more than a fifth. JLR's Chinese sales growth was slower than the previous quarter, however, when it posted an increase of 86% for the three months to the end of June – a sales spurt that JLR attributed in part to the launch of the Evoque in China.
The performance of the likes of JLR and BMW, which saw the German car maker announce a 40% increase in quarterly Chinese sales, contrasts starkly with European mass-market producers. France's Peugeot-Citroën is being rescued by the French state, while Ford has announced plans to shut three European plants including two in the UK, and General Motors is expected to shut its Bochum site in Germany.
European factories used by Peugeot-Citroën, Ford and GM are focused on meeting demand from a continental market that is in a steep decline, having fallen for the twelfth successive month in September. Premium car makers, by contrast, make fewer vehicles and have the outlet of strong US and emerging market demand.
JLR's Speth said the company would continue to grow this year. "Jaguar Land Rover will continue to invest in its products, plants and will drive further growth by spending in the region of £2Bn this year," he said. The latest UK investment has seen JLR hire 1,000 more workers to launch a three-shift, 24-hour operation at its Halewood plant on Merseyside. However, JLR's next major production move will be outside the UK. Speaking to the Guardian in September as JLR launched a new Range Rover built in Solihull, Speth admitted that the company's production facilities will have to "go where the markets are", with plans for a Chinese plant now well advanced.