Lennard Hoornik. Chief Commercial Officer at Jaguar Land Rover
Photo Credits: Bajirao Pawar for Forbes India
Over the last three years, Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury car brand owned by Tata Motors, has seen several ups and downs. Chip shortages, the pandemic and price inflation were some of the challenges they had to contend with. There was also an urgency with which they needed to offer electric vehicle options. The company’s new Reimagine strategy is starting to pay results. In the first quarter of FY24, JLR saw robust sales of 101,994 units globally. It also had an order book of 185,000 units.
Lennard Hoornik who took over as JLR’s chief commercial officer in 2021 is pleased with the progress of the Reimagine strategy. The company has moved from two brands to four- Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar and has a significant new event lined up later this year - the launch of the Range Rover electric version - the Range Rover BEV.
On a recent visit to India he sat down with Forbes India
to talk about the new car and the brand. Edited excerpts:
Q. Range Rover is a very strong brand but there is the Range Rover BEV (the electric version) that goes on sale later this year. That will be a huge mindset shift and what sort of questions are you getting from enthusiasts and the dealer network?
If you look at the Range Rover BEV we don’t want to make an electric car we want to make a Range Rover electric car. And you can imagine a bigger battery at the bottom of the car is heavy but also we want it to be able to go in the desert, it needs to drive in the Arctic at -40 degrees, it needs to be able to do a rock crawl, it needs to go through 90 centimetres of water that’s what we are about and that is what we stand for. To engineer an electric car like that is very difficult and so I am super proud that we will take orders later this year and start to deliver by 2025 because that is a true engineering challenge.Also read: The Nexon was planned as Tata Motors' in-between car. Now it's driving the automaker's resurgence
Q. Is there some concern that customers may not take to an electric version of the Range Rover?
I don’t see it like that. These will be true Range Rovers. An electric car provides more torque. Electric cars are very quiet. They are also very powerful which suits the Range Rover well. We are truly excited as it enhances the attributes of the Range Rover.
Q. You took over two year ago and it has been a roller coaster ride with covid, (the chip shortage) and the Reimagine Strategy coming about. How have the last two years been for the brand?
I loved it but I would be lying if I said it was an easy time. It was definitely a super exciting time. But a lot happened - we had Covid, the semi conductor shortage, inflation those were all the things that happened and we are coming through that. But in the last three quarters we produced good results and India is booming in the last quarter. To see that the momentum is kicking off is great to see.
The first quarter sales numbers were very robust and the order book at 185,000 units is very strong but China is slowing down and accounts for a huge chunk of sales. Q. The first quarter sales numbers were very robust and the order book at 185,000 units is very strong but China is slowing down and accounts for a huge chunk of sales. What are you seeing on the ground there?
India sales more than doubled in the last quarter and the order book grew by 50 percent. (JLR sold 1048 units in India in Q1) so the India momentum is there and we are excited to see what is happening. The great thing about our car and segments that we play in — the Range Rover and Defender brands and to a lesser extent Jaguar and Discovery. That makes for solid demand in any country. It has not been an easy product to engineer.Also read: Charged up: Inside Ola's audacious electric gambitQ. What differentiates the Indian buyer from those that you serve globally?
India is an enormous country with 1.4 billion people. We are focusing on 1 million people. How do you pick them out is our key challenge. We have 26 retail points so it is important to reach people in the right place. If you look at what makes the Range Rover and Defender or Discovery successful here it is very much that the cars are great to be driven, they can handle any road condition and the Defender can pull 2.5 times its weight. It fits the Indian market well and we are part of Tata (and that helps).
Q. In a recent investor presentation JLR mentioned that they plan to target faster growing brands in faster growing regions. Which are those regions and brands you were talking about?
It is important to see that people use our vehicles differently in different places. If you look at America we can see that the Range Rover is very widely penetrated and in India, China and Southeast Asia the cars are driven and Europe prefers more hybrid varieties. There are a lot of new China brands coming into the market. For us we need to be true to ourselves that’s why we are changing the strategy going from two brands to four brands as each has their own audience.