In hopes of better coordinating the efforts of Jaguar and Land Rover dealers, the brands' national dealer councils will merge.
The umbrella council will report to Mike O'Driscoll, president of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America. It will be called the President's Advisory Committee.
Each brand will have its own Business Operations Council that reports to the advisory committee. And each operations council will have three subcommittees: product and marketing, parts and service, and technology. The number of Aston Martin dealers is too small to warrant such a structure.
Sound like a lot of groups? Mark Hennessy, president of the Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover Transition Council, which was formed last year, says the structure is necessary.
"We needed to overcome the hump of Jaguar and Land Rover coming together," Hennessy said after Jaguar's make meeting. The Land Rover make meeting was canceled. "Now we'll get the most out of both brands, but we also need to keep separate operations councils for specific actions because there's only 45 percent common ownership. As more points come together, maybe 10 years from now, we'll be able to have just one group."
Ford Motor Co. merged the business operations of Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin in September 2001. The transition council is disbanding as the advisory committee forms.
As for products, Jaguar dealers are eager for the redesigned 2004 XJ. Dealers will meet again at the end of March to discuss details about the car's U.S. launch. In April, dealers should receive one or two 2004 XJs to display. They expect to begin selling them in May or June.
Although Jaguar is cutting X-Type production, several dealers said they're not too worried about selling the car. Jaguar sold 33,018 X-Types in the United States last year.
"We'll sell at least as many as last year," said Hennessy, co-owner of the multifranchise Hennessy Automobile Cos. in Atlanta. Then he reconsidered: "There might be a fallback. It's a soft market out there."