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The future of Jag and JLR’s ‘House of Brands’ range

With the automotive world arguably putting the handbrake on EV’s, Steve Kenchington · Chief Executive Officer at Motorcorp Distributors Limited (Jaguar/Land Rover in NZ) invited us for breakfast with Martin Limpert, Regional Director Overseas to discuss the future of JLR’s House of Brands – spoiler alert, it’s looking bright.

The meeting was held at the Hyatt in (where else) the luxurious Park Hyatt in Auckland and a group that Range Rover will be announcing a concierge service partnership with. However, we were there to discuss the four pillars of JLR’s house of brands, so loaded with coffee, we began. 

Martin Limpert JLR

As stated, Martin Limpert is the Regional Director for the overseas region, which is basically every country outside the US, UK, Europe and China. So he covers a lot of ground and worldwide, but still he looked more chipper and awake than the rest of us that attended, or maybe just me. 

Aside from being in NZ to attend the Hawkes Bay dealer awards and congratulate NZ on how well we’re doing per capita (Kiwi’s love JLR products), he was keen to chat about what’s happening inside JLR in the world of electrification and ice and the transformation journey that the industry is taking. 

“First of all, I need to congratulate the New Zealand team. Indeed, you guys had some very successful years recently. Last year the economy turned more difficult but again, the representation of JLR was really outperforming the market and we’re doing well so thank you for that,” Martin began. 

He added that the economic challenges are not just NZ specific but also global, I guess that’s some consolation. 

“As JLR, we are in one of the biggest transformations of our company with the modern luxury wave of the four brands (Jaguar, Range Rover, Defender and Discovery) being customer centric brand obsessed and digital data driven. At the same time, we see a huge dynamic and behaviour shift in the consumer environment.”

More on that in a moment.

Martin says that his love for cars started with his father, “he’s just a car addict as well. So I just grew up with his car magazines and journals all around me, kind of naturally grew with me.”

But he recalls that if there was one moment that clinched it, that was when he first took the wheel.

“I better not share the age, but when he put me behind the steering wheel of a car on a private compound and taught me how to use the clutch, how to use the gear shift and move the car. I think this is where it really ignited me.”

Martin spent a lot of time, certainly much of his young career at Porsche, not a bad place to start, but moved to JLR in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since.  

“At that time JLR had two very attractive brands, Jaguar and Land Rover. We are now transitioning with our ‘house of brands’ which gives us space for more individual personalities.”

The opportunity as a regional director arose and the diversity of  more than 70 countries in the region and the appeal of the organisation’s brands, plus having a chance to be part of a transformation and drive these brands to the top of the automotive industry was the spirit that encouraged him to join

Soon thereafter, the ‘reimagined strategy’ was delivered, which underlined that corporation’s  commitment to sustainability, this plus their vehicle’s modern luxury focus has more than kept Martin busy.

“So the strategy is more than luxury, and we attribute this across all the ‘house of brands’ logic over Defender, Discovery, Range Rover and Jaguar  – they are standalone brands, with standalone personalities but with sustainability at the core.”

However, Martin is keen to point out that for them, sustainability is not just about decarbonisation, it really goes beyond this to three main pillars: Regenerate, Engaged for good and Responsible business.

“We have committed to be net zero carbon emissions by 2039. And we are doing everything to get to that level. We also plan to have all of our brands electrified by 2030. And we have self imposed a certain target for us to achieve carbon reductions.”

He says that sustainability is something that’s near and dear to their hearts and they talk about it every day. 

With a keen eye on 70 markets, Martin told us that overall he sees a willingness for environmental change, but there are influencing factors one which is consumer behaviours. 

“We see more and more in many markets clients, especially modern luxury clients, to drive for more eco-friendly products, and for manufacturers to innovate and to develop and deliver products that are more sustainable as well. On the other side, there are governmental regulations that obviously support the faster transition as well, as well as incentive schemes in those markets. So I think it is important for us, having a line strategy with these market dynamics helps us to accelerate the transformation into cleaner transportation.” 

He says that a big goal for JLR is the route to better electric vehicles. They are pure electrifying products in their range by 2039 and are currently testing the all-electric Range Rover currently in Sweden. And next year they will be launching the first re-imagined electric Jaguars.

Steve Kenchington adds to the conversation, “I think that we have done a pretty good job in terms of starting that journey. Some have said that we’ve been a little bit slow to the EV party, but you might say now that that was a wise decision. We are seeing plug-in hybrids as a really nice middle ground to get to full electric and my view is certainly with Landrover being pretty well being an off road, four wheel drive brand, you’ve got to get it right.”

It would appear that the NZ market agrees with Steve, as in terms of plug-in hybrid sales volumes, JLR has seen really strong uptake in terms of Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Steve says, “Interestingly enough, traditionally, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport customers were very V8 or diesel orientated but we have seen a swing towards a plug-in hybrid and I think that’s because of AC/DC charging flexibility. But also the range of up to 113km on a charge does make it a far better proposition in terms of some of our competitors.” 

Martin continues. “On top of the reimagine strategy sits JLR being the proud creators of the most desirable and modern luxury brands for the most discerning of clients.” 

He says that once we separated them into the ‘house of brands’ organisational structure, where each brand has a managing director that lives and breathes that brand, they were able to develop the brand vision and strategy accordingly. 

“Range Rover stands for luxury refinement, the absolute pinnacle of modern luxury. Defender is all about capability and durability, adventure. Discovery is all about versatility with your family and this kind of stuff. While Jaguar is all about exuberance, modernist disruption, especially going forward in the future.” 

In many ways Jaguar is the more difficult of their portfolio of brands to change, after all, it’s been about the engine, the performance, the design and the luxury, but Martin seems unfazed, saying that Jaguar will just be the absolute disruptive, exuberant, compelling, new definition of Jaguar going forward, which we’ll see starting to come into the market very soon. 

Martin says that they do see a shift within the clients of the luxury automotive industry, towards brands being more of an experiential character. 

“It’s not just a car, it’s not just getting me from A to B, it’s not just the best leather and so on. It has to provide a certain lifestyle, a certain ecosystem. I already mentioned the element of sustainability. There’s also technological advancements that our customers expect from us. If we just take the link between my digital environment [smartphone] and my car, it’s about connectivity and having everything everywhere. 

“There’s the desire for personalization, more and more, especially I want to express myself my personal values and I want to express them through the brand I drive, through the car I drive, all of these elements, personalization, sustainability, tech advantage of connectivity. All of this is obviously underlined by a strong backbone in terms of technology.” 

He says that JLR are working closely with NVIDIA, using their technology for ADAS. Going forward, every of their cars of 2025 and beyond will have NVIDIA chips. And they are looking into AI, how this can contribute further to advance their automobiles. 

“So technology is cool and super important for us. From my point of view, as JLR partners more in the market our flexibility and ability to adapt fast to changing consumer requirements and technology changes. But at the same time, we must be consistent with what we stand for within the modern luxury interpretation and put the DNA of each of the four brands too”

As for when we’ll see the new product in NZ, Steve Kenchington said that the timescale from global launch to landing here has been narrowing, with less than 6 months becoming more realistic.

We can’t wait.

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