Car dealers from the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) retail network have been left “flabbergasted” by the Indian-owned carmaker’s new plan to axe its 75-year-old Land Rover brand.
Tata Automotive’s British OEM revealed yesterday (April 19) that it would ditch the Land Rover name for its range of 4×4 models, instead focussing on Jaguar, Range Rover, Defender, Discovery as part of its new House of Brands retail and marketing strategy.
It will also officially switch its official company branding to ‘JLR’, to remove reference to Land Rover, as part of a move which will spark corporate identity changes in dealerships across the UK which had funded a £1 billion Arch Concept corporate identity (CI) transformation in recent years.
The changes come as the OEM prepares to roll-out agency model retail and were met by incredulous response from retailers.
“I’m utterly flabbergasted,” one JLR retailer told AM. “For decades JLR has had some quite significant and well reported issues and the power of the brand has absolutely been it major strength.
“Side-line the Land Rover brand and you’re turning your back on the strongest element of the business, a global powerhouse of a brand. You have to question the intelligence behind that.”
An article in the Daily Mail’s This Is Money supplement reported that Land Rover branding will be used as “an overarching ‘Trust Mark’” in future, adding that the name will no longer appear prominently on the front of retail dealerships.
Instead, across a rectangular black arch, will be the names of the individual vehicles such as Range Rover or Defender, without the ‘Land Rover’ oval, it added.
Just as AM sources had previously expressed uncertainty about the future scale of JLR’s UK retail network amid plans for lower volumes and a more luxury-focussed product portfolio under an agency model, conversations yesterday suggested information about changes attached to the House of Brands CI makeover are also lacking.
“I’ve no idea what material changes they are planning for the dealerships,” said an AM source.
JLR’s chief creative officer Gerry McGovern said that the House of Brands change in marketing direction would serve to “elevate and amplify the uniqueness of our characterful British marques”.
He added: “Our ultimate ambition is to build truly emotionally engaging experiences for our clients that, overtime, will build long-term high equity for our brands and long-term sustainability for JLR.”
Speaking at yesterday’s event, JLR’s new chief executive Adrian Mardell reaffirmed the business’s commitment to its Reimagine strategy, which he said will reposition the company as a highly profitable electric-first, modern luxury carmaker by 2030.
JLR sought to highlight its £15 billion investment to electrify its UK car manufacturing operations in its announcements.
As part of its plan, the OEM’s Halewood plant in Merseyside will become an all-electric manufacturing facility with its Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton also set to be renamed Electric Propulsion Manufacturing Centre.
JLR confirmed it will open order books for its all-electric Range Rover later this year, adding that the first of its next generation medium-size modern luxury SUVs will be another all-electric model Range Rover launching in 2025 and built at Halewood.
JLR also announced that the first of three new Jaguar models will be a four-door GT built in Solihull, featuring more power than any previous Jaguar, a range up to 700km (430 miles), and indicative pricing from £100,000.