Land Rover dealers want to get more profit out of their franchise, better quality from the factory and a commitment from the factory that their style of retailing will stay the same.
On the profit side, while the Range Rover line has boosted grosses, the aging Freelander needs support, said Mike Levitan, dealer council chairman and dealer principal of four Land Rover stores on New York's Long Island.
Land Rover dealers had a breakfast meeting during the convention.
Mike O'Driscoll, president of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America, said that the Range Rover will account for the majority of the new-vehicle profit, but that last fall's midcycle freshening of the Freelander should bolster grosses as well.
Because of the expected volume growth coming from product redesigns and additions over the next two years, O'Driscoll said, the automaker will increase its infrastructure and support of dealers.
Communication between dealers and the factory will improve, thanks to Land Rover taking its dealer service and customer service call centers in-house. Land Rover also will boost its parts supply logistics and support and has increased its field staffing levels.
Levitan, who has been a Land Rover dealer since 1997, said he expects 2004 to result in "the best information trail" between the factory and dealers, whether by phone or over a boosted Internet technical support network.
But Land Rover executives admitted the franchise has a long way to go on quality, having scored the worst of any luxury brand in the J.D. Power surveys.
"Quality is No. 1 with us. We just haven't been able to deliver it," said Richard Beattie, executive vice president of marketing and sales for Jaguar and Land Rover North America.
"We have some old platforms with engineering challenges, regardless of how well they are manufactured," Beattie said. "Once we have new vehicles on dedicated platforms, you will see a jump in the scores."