Land Rover dealers want more Evoques

LAS VEGAS -- It has been years since Land Rover North America had a hot, pricey product in short supply.

That's why dealers are pleading for more of the new compact Evoque three- and five-door SUV, which has an entry price with transportation of $43,995 for the five-door model and $44,995 for the three-door.

Worldwide demand for the Evoque is high, and some U.S. dealers don't know when they'll get more. The Evoque was launched last fall.

John Symes, president of Symes Automotive Group, said he has a two-month order backlog. Symes runs a medium-sized Land Rover dealership that sells about 500 vehicles a year. Symes said smaller dealers who get a lower allocation of Evoques probably are feeling the pinch even more.

And there's the Long Island Automotive Group, which owns three Land Rover stores and sells about 2,000 vehicles a year. Michael Levitan, group vice president, says he has Evoques but won't say how many. The store's Web site doesn't list inventory, but tells buyers to call.

Levitan is sensitive about his stock because some Land Rover dealers are bellyaching that the bigger dealers -- especially those on the East Coast, close to Land Rover headquarters in New Jersey -- are getting more vehicles than those further west.

There have been public cries of "not fair." Land Rover management thought the issue was hot enough that it tried to quiet dealer worries about East Coast dealers getting more than their fair share in Las Vegas at the dealer meeting this weekend at the National Automobile Dealers convention.

Levitan was particularly rattled. During the U.S. economic meltdown in 2008-09, Land Rover was stuck with excess vehicles, more than a 100-day supply some months. It asked dealers to take additional vehicles, he said.

"Big dealers raised their hands and overstocked themselves during that period and are now reaping their rewards a long as their sales continue at that pace," Levitan said.

That's probably not going to totally placate the smaller guys.

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