It’s no secret that Land Rovers are not the absolute pinnacle of reliability, though many find that their overall durability and reparability still make them excellent backcountry companions. But this reputation has likely cost the company millions of potential sales over the years, and new JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré is looking to change the way their brands are perceived.
Bolloré has repositioned JLR’s goals, looking for profit over numbers. Prior CEO Ralf Speth was focused on positioning JLR alongside the German luxury automakers, with a broad line, some segment duplication, and high volume. This approach nearly bankrupted the company, and Bolloré has a different idea: high quality, and high profit margins on all vehicles.
Bolloré figures that JLR’s reputation costs them 100,000 sales every year. The most recent JD Power survey ranked Jaguar third-last and Land Rover last among all major automakers for initial quality. Land Rover owners aren’t unfamiliar with this reputation, nor the nudging it gets from their friends. It doesn’t matter that several modern models have proven to be unusually reliable, either; the reputation has preceded them.
There have already been some strides made, and warranty claims on 2021 model year vehicles are noticeably below 2020. But there is more work to be done, especially as the company has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine itself as they focus more on electric technology – which requires fewer moving parts than internal combustion vehicles, and thus has fewer places to go wrong.
A new member of the JLR board, the “Executive Director of Company Quality and Customer Satisfaction,” will oversee the improvement in the company’s reputation and product. The appointee is Nigel Blenkinsop, who has worked in operations, manufacturing, and quality with JLR since 2012, with a prior history at Ford and BAE Systems.
There are many steps in increasing reliability, which go beyond just “doing a better job at the factory.” From the start of a design, vehicles will be designed to be simpler, with fewer breakdown points.
In other news, the future of Jaguar will see it entirely repositioned, abandoning all lower market segment vehicles and aiming to compete with Bentley and the like with a base price of about $140,000 for the cheapest model.
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