Tata Motors-owned JLR to give fresh lease of life to Road Rover brand

Jaguar Land Rover
Even though Tata-owned luxury car-maker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is tipped to be planning a new brand – Road Rover – under which it may roll out a new range of cars, it is averse to commenting on reports that it has applied for trademark. 

The company had used the Road Rover name to roll out cars earlier. 

But this time, the brand name will only be used to launch electric and hybrid vehicles in 2020, according to sources. Paris-based automotive author Gautam Sen said since the Jaguar’s branding isn't as strong as Range Rover, JLR wants to use the new brand name to give a fillip to its sedans. 

The cars will be sold to worldwide through the same dealer network. 

The unit at JLR is driven by 70% sales volumes for SUVs, which are basically the Range Rovers and the Land Rovers, leaving the remainder coming from Jaguar-branded sedans. 

Of the 620,000 vehicles that JLR retailed last year, 178,000 were Jaguars and 448,500 came from Land Rover. The Jaguar XE, which is the company's first small sedan in nearly a decade, didn't take off as planned. This was because it was clearly a competitor to compact luxury cars like BMW's 3 Series, Audi's A-4 and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class.

Last year for example, the XE clocked around 40,000 unit sales worldwide which was barely a third of the number of BMW 3 series sold just in Europe alone – 142,000. 

“The idea would be to use a new brand effectively to catapult a range of predominantly electric products,” Sen added. 

The new line-up is expected to be derived from models in the portfolio of Jaguars, comprising estates and sedans and driven by technologies as in the  all electric I-Pace. JLR hopes to take on the electric cars manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

When contacted, JLR officials responded, saying “we do not comment on speculation about future products.” 

“All car manufacturers use their own internal nomenclature to create and maintain a brand architecture when they have multiple car categories. That's the way they define how they see the market evolving and how they plan to tackle and sell cars to customers,” said Kavan Mukhtyar, partner and leader – automotive, PwC India. 

That's even evident closer home with the likes of Maruti Suzuki which launched a premium range of cars to be sold only at high-end dealerships called Nexa. 

“Any brand, which can fall back on heritage, is clearly deriving some value from it but the creation of a new brand is a shot at creating an exclusive opportunity for customers who may be looking for different ways to make their purchases in a market where choices are getting blurred,” Mukhtyar added.  For 2017, JLR’s US sales stood at 114,333 units, up nine per cent compared to 105,104 units in 2016, making America the company’s top market.

For electric cars, however, China is the largest market in the world. Therefore, despite the trade war between China and the US, American electric car maker Tesla announced that it would be setting up a factory in China to make half a million units a year.

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