Raúl Peñafiel
Director General
Jaguar Land Rover México
/
View from the Top

Luxury vehicle Segment Still Requires Personal Touch

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 01/19/2021 - 18:54

Q: How has Jaguar Land Rover adapted to the pandemic?

A: This has been a situation that none of us saw coming. The decisions we made before the pandemic’s outbreak and in its first few months helped us to overcome the obstacles we faced. In November 2019, for example, we decided to develop and start using a platform that would allow our employees to work remotely. When the pandemic hit, we were ready and decided to have all our staff work from home. The platform has worked extremely well, allowing us to continue offering our services to customers and the dealer network without interruption.

Our commitment to transparency was another factor that helped us deal with the pandemic. When we started as a subsidiary, we wanted to make it possible for customers to view all our vehicles online, including our inventory in Mexico and the variety of configurations available. The objective was to adapt to the clients’ needs if, for example, they required a vehicle in the short term. This program was already available before the pandemic and has enhanced the online purchasing process. We have been able to provide personalized information to customers in less than 30 minutes. 

Additionally, just before the crisis, we opened our showrooms in Torreon, Queretaro, Insurgentes, and Parque Lira in Mexico City, and will soon open one Santa Fe. The goal was to have 20 showrooms this year but unfortunately, this plan has been delayed for one or two years. Nevertheless, during the first months of the pandemic, we developed a strategy hand in hand with the dealerships to keep the showrooms open, prioritizing maintenance for our customers’ vehicles at home. One of the programs we set up included home-based driving tests. 

Q: What changes have you observed in your sales process and consumer behavior?

The pandemic has shown that offering a 100 percent digital experience is not enough. When someone buys a luxury vehicle, the contact our dealer network has with that person is still crucial. It has been a difficult situation for everyone, and we have seen a real change in consumer habits in the country as a result. 

People who previously preferred international travel experiences now require a car to discover places closer to home. In this context, a vehicle like the Land Rover Defender, the first off-road vehicle for private use worldwide, is perfect. The Defender has all the capabilities of an all-terrain vehicle but with the total comfort needed for a whole family to travel hundreds of kilometers in it. Right now, we need to leave our homes and screens and again experience the life we used to live. In the midst of this pandemic, vehicles have become a tool to continue having experiences and discovering the world, even if it is closer than before. This crisis has also made people aware that having a vehicle can help minimize the risk of contagion. 

Q: What are the keys to making the customization process at Jaguar Land Rover Mexico an enjoyable experience?

A: Mexico is quite a particular country because it has both profiles: clients who love personalized vehicles and those who just want to own the vehicle as fast as possible. As far as the vehicle is concerned, we have tried to satisfy both needs. For example, we provide special vehicles (SV) that the customer can personalize all year round. 

The pandemic has also challenged us to continue to offer personalized experiences. We are going to live increasingly in a world that demands greater interaction with artificial intelligence and every minute we spend talking to a human being makes a difference. Technology is vital but at the end of the day, a human being can look you in the eye and empathize with you. The concept of luxury is not associated with a perfect experience, but with having the attention of several people who are looking out for you. We want our clients to perceive that there are people who make mistakes but who are taking care of them. 

Q: How do you expect Jaguar Land Rover’s sales recovery to evolve?

A: Jaguar and Land Rover are both luxury brands. Our customers want greater differentiation rather than status. When the pandemic arrived, there were two options for supply. The first was a push strategy, in which we could put many vehicles on the market and see how we could sell them. However, the decision we made with our headquarters was to expect a pessimistic scenario and make sure that we did not overload the market and dealer networks with more vehicles than necessary. 

Unfortunately, in September and October, our market share fell sharply because we did not have enough inventory. We had never had such a low level of stock in Mexico. Starting in November, we normalized production. Our sales are down 40 percent compared to the previous year but we expect to recover to 20 percent below 2019 sales.

Q: What are Jaguar Land Rover’s goals for 2021 in Mexico?

A: Electric vehicles are at the heart of Jaguar Land Rover's development. For a relatively small company in terms of volume, we have succeeded in having the first electric vehicle recognized as the car of the year worldwide. This was not by chance. It is the result of an investment that has allowed us to take advantage of the other competitors in the EV segment. 

In Mexico, this is quite important for us. Even though we know that the market is not yet mature, we have decided to introduce this vehicle here, providing both light maintenance and more complicated repairs, such as changing the battery modules. Today, the sale of hybrid and electric vehicles is significant in the country. We are convinced that electrification is the future, but the market will develop at different speeds in each city. 2021 will be a year full of surprises from Jaguar Land Rover. We will reinforce the electrification of our ranges and there will be a wider range of electric and plug-in hybrid models.

 

Jaguar Land Rover is the largest automaker in the UK, representing 30 percent of the country’s automotive manufacturing. The company produces vehicles for export to 136 markets.

 

Photo by:   Jaguar Land Rover
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst