In an interesting convergence of two diametrically-opposed line graphs, Land Rover is currently selling more vehicles in Australia than Jeep, while it's also selling more SUVs than Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the luxury market.
Between January and March, Land Rover sold 4093 units in Australia, up 49.8 per cent. Jeep, meanwhile, sold 3787, down 50.1 per cent. At the same time in 2015, Jeep’s sales were triple Land Rover’s — a big shift inside 12 months.
Land Rover’s year-to-date (YTD) sales are powering along on the back of the Discovery Sport, which is second in its segment behind only the new Mercedes-Benz GLC, and the owner of 16.3 per cent market share.
Another piece in the puzzle was the late rush to buy up the final run of Defenders before that car’s production ended, with 359 sales YTD, more than double last year’s tally over the same period.
In a sign of success for Land Rover, it’s the 17th most popular brand in Australia this year, ahead of Renault and Lexus, the latter of which it has almost doubled. Land Rover Australia has also sold more SUVs than Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. And even Kia.
Land Rover’s sales success this year is echoed by Jaguar, which is the second half of the global Jaguar Land Rover brand. Jaguar’ sales are up 173.1 per cent to 680 units, making it the market’s second-fastest growing brand on percentage terms.
Land Rover’s strong sales are the opposite of Jeep Australia, which continues to adjust after it enjoyed a stratospheric sales rise for a few years earlier in the decade. Of key concern is the unfavourable exchange rate, which has hurt its pricing.
Grand Cherokee sales total 2086 this year, down 37.5 per cent. This is over a 2015 figure that was itself down almost 20 per cent over 2014. Cherokee sales of 543 are also down 77.6 per cent over Jan-Mar 2015, and the Renegade with 276 sales so far this year has only gathered 1.1 per cent market share.
We spoke to the global head of Jeep, Mike Manley, in New York a few weeks ago with other Australian media, and he chalked up Jeep’s performance here to currency issues.
“I think we’ve got huge headwinds in terms of the currency [exchange],” he said.
“No one likes to give up share, but when you’ve got the exchange headwinds that we’ve got, the most appropriate thing is to protect our dealers and protect our business,” he said of the brand’s recent price rises that have also affected the Fiat and Chrysler brands.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Jeep Australia will soon have a brand new compact SUV replacement for the Compass and Patriot (spied above), as well as a ute version of the next-generation Wrangler that should prove a hit with commercial buyers.