DEALER COUNCIL LEADERS

V-6, awd may help Jag dealers

Levitan: Some tough times
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Last year was challenging for Jaguar dealers. New-car sales for the brand slipped 2 percent to 12,011, after an 8 percent drop in 2011.

But things are changing, says Michael Levitan, the dealer principal of two Jaguar dealerships in New York.

Jaguar now offers all-wheel-drive and a V-6 on its 2013 XJ model, features sorely missing from its 2012 product line. It also retooled its TV commercials, increased its online presence and urged single-point dealers to consolidate to create more stores that combine the Land Rover and Jaguar British luxury franchises.

It also changed the way dealers' concerns get to the factory.

Levitan chairs the Jaguar Land Rover Retailer Cabinet, created Jan. 1 by a merger of the Jaguar Business Operations Council and the Land Rover Business Operations Council.

Levitan says the role of the cabinet is to represent dealers' concerns and be a sounding board to the factory. He says dealer profitability, vehicle quality and raising awareness about Jaguar are top concerns.

He adds: "Our goal is to represent the dealer body the best way possible and to help guide and grow the business and make it viable for all."

He admits that the last few years have been difficult for Jaguar dealers, but he is optimistic about 2013.

"We've been through some difficult times, but the dealers have managed through them, to their credit," says the dealer principal of Jaguar South Hampton, in South Hampton, N.Y., and Jaguar Huntington, in Huntington, N.Y. Levitan's two stores combined sell about 16 new and 10 used Jaguars a month.

"They are a bunch of passionate dealers," he said. "I respect every single one of them. There is an opportunity in 2013 for everyone to improve their business."

Q&A: autonews.com/levitan

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com.


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