Former Chrysler exec Eberhardt named president of Jaguar Land Rover N.A.

Joe Eberhardt resigned from Chrysler in December 2006.
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Joe Eberhardt, the sales executive who left Chrysler seven years ago amid a storm of dealer anger surrounding overproduction, has been named president of Jaguar Land Rover North America.

He will lead the company's sales, service and marketing in the United States and Canada, Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement today.

"Joe Eberhardt is an outstanding executive addition to Jaguar Land Rover's global market leadership team heading up the critical U.S. and Canada operations at a time of tremendous growth and opportunity," said Andy Goss, the company's group sales operation director. Eberhardt will report to Goss.

Eberhardt, 50, resigned from Chrysler in December 2006 after becoming a flashpoint for dealer anger over unassigned cars the factory was making without orders from dealers. Vehicles piled up on dealership lots, even though dealers say they repeatedly warned about overproduction.

In 2007, Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. Two years later, Chrysler was rescued by Italy's Fiat S.p.A. in a U.S.-steered bankruptcy.

According to the company statement, Eberhardt also has held senior leadership and advisory positions in the technology, consulting and communications industries, including Boston Consulting Group. He also is a graduate-level adjunct professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, the statement said.

Eberhardt faces the challenge of improving the sales and image of Jaguar and Land Rover in the U.S. market. Jaguar dealerships also are in the midst of complying with new dealership standards.

Jaguar and Land Rover sales are on the rise in the U.S. market as the brands introduce a flurry of new vehicles and engines. Jaguar sales have risen 41 percent through November to 15,408 cars and Land Rover is up 15 percent to 44,246 vehicles.

But the brands still aren’t as highly regarded as competitors BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.

Land Rover is in that league in terms of prestige and awareness, Goss, who was the former Jaguar Land Rover North America CEO, said in a recent interview with Automotive News. Goss was promoted to group sales operations director earlier this year.

Jaguar is hoping to remedy its image with new marketing offensives and halo products such as the new F-type convertible that went on sale earlier this year and the coupe that debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Jaguar plans to introduce four new models by 2018, including a compact sedan, crossover, coupe and station wagon. In the past two years, Range Rover has launched the new compact Evoque crossover and redesigned the iconic Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

For the 2013 model year, Jaguar added all-wheel drive and four- and six-cylinder engines to its existing passenger car range to better compete with its German and Japanese rivals. It previously only offered a V-8 on the mid-sized XF and XJ sedans.

Jaguar began rolling out the new dealership standards earlier this year -- the first major update in a decade -- to prepare them for the wave of new products. Jaguar has initially targeted about 50 older dealerships.

Jaguar Land Rover is also trying to improve its customer service -- a new battlefield for luxury brands in the United States. Earlier this year, it hired industry veteran Duke Hale to the new position of vice president of customer service.

Jaguar was ranked third among luxury brands in the 2013 J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Customer Service Index Study. But Land Rover has been the lowest-ranked luxury brand in the survey for three years. For 2013 it was the only luxury brand out of 11 to score below average in all five service categories surveyed by Power.

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