Jaguar, Land Rover Germany chief targets fleet sales

Schwalbach, Germany. Rainer Landwehr, the chief executive of Jaguar and Land Rover Germany since August 1, says Jaguar is about to stop its sales slide. "For 2004 we are planning to increase our sales by 15 to 20 percent," he said. He then admitted that the increase hinges on a general economic recovery.

The former Ford sales director expects 5,000 first registrations for 2003, although others aren't so optimistic. According to dealers, Jaguar's field operators are predicting only 4,500 first registrations. Last year, the German Federal Motor Vehicle Registration Authority (KBA) counted 6,000 new Jaguars.

"In 2003, the luxury market has fallen by 20 percent, and that hits niche car suppliers like us especially hard," Landwehr said.

Landwehr hopes to boost fleet sales with the introduction of the Jaguar X-type station wagon, which goes on sale in March 2004, and new diesel engines.

"We will target the middle class more strongly. But first we have to create the right organizational backdrop," Landwehr said. To offer more attractive leasing rates, Landwehr wants to increase residual values rather than lower prices.

Landwehr is even more optimistic about the off-road brand. "For Land Rover, I am expecting to see 8,400 to 8,500 first registrations." Last year there were only 7,000 first registrations, according to the KBA. But since the Defender is partly registered as a truck by the KBA, and there are additional vehicles being sold to the British Army that don't turn up in the KBA's statistics, Land Rover is hoping to be able to record 9,200 sales in it internal figures for 2003. In the coming year, sales are supposed to be boosted to up to 10,000 units.

According to Landwehr's estimates, the sport-utility market will grow by 22 percent to 147,000 units thanks to new models such as the Volkswagen Touareg and the Volvo XC90. Since November 15, the Freelander has been available in a restyled version.

"I'm not a fan of aggressive action toward the end of the year," the manager said. "I am aiming to optimize the sales mix. Other than that, we will continue down the path set by my predecessor."

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