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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Jag dealers hear about future under Tata

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Jag dealers hear about future under Tata

Diana T. Kurylko

Automotive News -- February 22, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

ORLANDO -- As the second anniversary of the brand's sale to India's Tata approaches, Jaguar dealers heard repeated assertions at a breakfast meeting here that the future is bright.

Jaguar's U.S. management relayed messages from Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Group, and Ravi Kant, who heads Tata Motors Ltd.

Gary Temple, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America, conveyed the parent company's belief that the U.S. market is the "bellwether for Jaguar, Land Rover and other luxury brands" whose success in the United States reflects what sales will be in the rest of the world.

Said Richard Beattie, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Jaguar: "The economy has been so tough, and we've all been cutting back wherever we can. Now is the time for investing in future growth and awareness through increased media spending -- and it will have to be targeted."

The big spending -- up to 50 percent more on marketing than last year -- starts in April before the spring launch of the redesigned XJ sedan.

The vehicle easily could account for 50 percent of Jaguar's total sales in a full year, said Beattie.

The XJ is important because since Jaguar stopped producing the 2009 XJ last summer, the brand has "almost been a one-model company," Temple said. Dealers have relied primarily on the XF mid-sized sedan, which went on sale in 2008. The XF shares considerable components with the low-volume XK convertible and sedan.

Because dealers lost their volume car -- sales of the X-Type stopped in the second quarter of 2008 -- profitability was a major concern at the meeting, Temple said.

He said that "by and large," Jaguar dealers remain profitable.

Another key message was how Jaguar plans to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. In the United States, the brand is returning to racing in the American Le Mans series.

Tying into that program is the R Driving Academy. Buyers of the sporty R versions of the XF and XK get a one-day driving school that will be offered in various areas of the country, including Las Vegas, New York and Chicago.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Marketing will increase up to 50%.

• Low profits nag dealerships.

• 75th anniversary celebration launched.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100222/RETAIL06/302229992/1283#ixzz0gGv3rV0S

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