We weren’t always focused on hitting the sweet spots. So for us, number one was getting a car under 100g/km – that’s a big statement – Jeremy Hicks, MD Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar MD Jeremy Hicks tells Leasing Broker News of his quest and success in growing business sales
IT seems like a good time to be at the helm of Jaguar Land Rover; fleet volume is up 50% and with exciting new products such as the new Jaguar F-Pace SUV, there’s every chance those figures will continue on an upward curve.
One of the key people behind the change of perception of Jaguar Land Rover to fleet-friendly status is managing director Jeremy Hicks and we caught up with him to find out his fleet aspirations for the new SUV at the international launch.
It has been a continuous focus since the last-generation face-lifted XF went in to production, to bring Jaguar’s C02 down – is the F-Pace another example of your strategy of producing cars more suitable for the business user?
“Yes is the simple answer. If you look at it in really crude terms, at least half of the car market is bought by people through a business or a business one way or another. The great thing about both Jaguar and Land Rover is our retail share is phenomenal and we have great retention amongst our retail customers – others look at us and must be envious of that.
“However, I’ve been envious of other people’s fleet performance – we should have been doing much better! That’s why you’ve seen over the last three-years, that we’ve grown our internal fleet department, we’ve put more people out on the road, we’ve got guys together to represent both brands – so it’s one conversation.
“Plus, we’ve encouraged our network to implement a fleet specialist framework, so there’s dedicated people, dedicated admin, dedicated demonstrators and then we’ve also got the product – which is critical.
“We weren’t always focused on hitting the sweet spots. So for us, number one that was getting a car under 100g/km – that’s a big statement. Number two was making sure we’ve got a proportion of the fleet under 130g/km to hit the write downs.
“When we hit those points, everything else goes with it as we demonstrated. All the whole life cost stuff, good insurance ratings, good residual values – it all starts to work.
“I think XE surprised people, I really did – because they didn’t see us and we haven’t had a reputation for being CO2 efficient and the truth is, we are particularly with the Ingenium engines! In fact, our fleet volume is up 50% on last year.”
I imagine the F-Pace 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel is going to be the key fleet purchase with the CO2 emissions of 129g/km – would you agree?
“That’s the two-wheel drive manual version. We want to see how that goes, because I’m with you, I think we’ll be really surprised by the level of interest.
“We’re not getting carried away, saying it’s going to be huge, because I don’t see F-Pace being the biggest seller for us in the UK. XE is where the centre of gravity has to be.”
The SUV sector is an all-new area for Jaguar; do you think this car is going to be all conquest sales in the business sector? Or do you see existing Jaguar buyers, such as XF Sportbreak owners, gravitating towards it?
“We’re predicting 90% conquest, because it’s so new for Jaguar. We will draw a little bit from Jaguar Land Rover conquest, we will draw a little bit from the family – we can see already there are some Range Rover Evoque owners who are coming across.
“It’s about 10% so far. I think that will reduce and the reason I think it will reduce is because a lot of them are early adopters. So these are the people who bought Evoque the first time round, who were new to Jaguar Land Rover. It was the new style that appealed to them and they’re the most susceptible to move on to the next big thing – the F-Pace is that next big thing.
“So, we’ve got a proportion of those. But, I think we’ll pull from all the other brands – because of that £34,000 starting price.”
In terms of fleet do you think the F-Pace will be more of a two-wheel drive option, rather than four-wheel drive?
“Yes, because we’ve already seen the contract hire order bank for the Evoque two-wheel drive is 80%. But we’ve got to cater to all audiences; some business people will want this car because of the four-wheel drive and the rest because of its practicality.”
Do you think it’s going to be more crossover sales from Land Rover rather than Jaguar?
“No, I think it will probably be fairly equal, the Jaguar audience is loyal and they’ve come into the new XF, because with the XE we’re seeing a high level of conquest – about 70%.
“They are conquesting from two places – the premium manufacturers, but also from some of the mainstream manufacturers as well. PCP has changed the market, beyond all recognition, because of the monthly payments.”
Any ideas of F-Pace contract hire figures?
“Not yet, it’s too early – we’ll know in a couple of weeks. But it’s going to be, in the low 300s a month.”
Do you see the R-Sport trim being the most popular business trim?
“Yes, we expect 40% of the mix to be R-Sport, with the other 60% split between the other trim levels.
“S trim is currently accounting for 15% at the moment. Although I think we may have under-called how many people will go for the range-topping 3.0-litre V6.
“The challenge for us is to manage the upside, which is a nice place to be.”