“Jaguar and Land Rover are two distinct brands, not luxury”

On this last day of the long weekend British Motor Show (Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 August), there’s no better time to reflect on the state of our car-producing nation and its surviving group of UK-born manufacturers. .

Officially, of all the manufacturers here now (including the Japanese), five are qualified for “normal” players, seven are in the “mainstream sports and sports car” area, and more than 60 “specialized” cars are produced.

Among the survivors, I consider Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren, Mini, Rolls Royce and Vauxhall to be the big boys. But more stats, facts, and rankings from the Association of Automobile Manufacturers and Dealers put Aston, Bentley, McLaren and Rolls into the same second-tier, low-volume league as what I think of as little guys – a group that includes the likes of Caterham, Ginetta, Lotus, Morgan, TVR (still going?) and about 20 Others, some do and say so little that I have hardly heard of them.

How many men mentioned above, whether they are old, young, small, or one man, and what kind of dog operations they make chariots these days, and what their sizes are, is unclear. Not all of them are obligated to publish their numbers. Also, how much money – if any – do they earn? How long can they live on low or no earnings? Again, the numbers are often ambiguous – or non-existent.

So far in 2022, the handful of local British companies that are still with us, that are still producing and can still be fulfilled (hopefully), are seeing mixed fortunes. Bentley is as healthy as it is still customary, refined, and true luxury, and has posted a 43 percent year-over-year rise in registrations – while insisting it is “the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world”.

They, along with arch-rival Aston Martin (which doesn’t publicly release official sales numbers), are loud and proud proudly raising the flag for themselves, their exclusive luxury products, and those in the UK at Monterey Car Week USA in August. I say it’s good.

But as they continue to go through a long process of “reimagining” themselves, Jaguar (with UK sales down 40 per cent this year) and Land Rover (up 30 per cent) are sadly deteriorating and struggling in showrooms – faster, harder and more painful. Than any other British company is still classed as a group product.

MINI (down 1 per cent) and Vauxhall (down 11 per cent, but still produces the Corsa, Britain’s best-selling car) both hold up relatively well. But at the moment all major/well-known British companies as well as all small or less well known companies sell only about 10 per cent of cars bought in Britain. This is not enough.

JLR should step up to the board here. Perhaps it’s time for the board of directors to abandon the confusing “re-imagining” situation and instead do more “re-acceptance” of the fact that, in Jaguar and Land Rover, it has premium (and sometimes commercial) brands, not luxury brands.

The real competitors are Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, not Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Bentley (which I think are comfortably in a higher league). It will be a monumental task for JLR to “re-envision” itself as a luxury brand, no matter how good the cars are.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments section below…

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