A MAJOR British carmaker has blasted government ministers for their ‘demonisation of diesel’, which has hit its sales.
Jaguar Land Rover’s sales director Andy Goss made the claims when presenting the company’s 2017 worldwide sales figures, which showed during the last three months of the year, sales of Jaguars in the UK dropped by 22 per cent.
Owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata, the firm produces almost 530,000 cars from factories in Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood, near Liverpool. About a fifth of those remain in the UK with bestsellers including the Range Rover Evoque, the Land Rover Discovery and the Jaguar F-Pace.
Goss said: “We are facing tough times in key markets such as the UK where consumer confidence and diesel taxes will hit us.”
Whilst presenting the figures to reporters, Goss expressed Jaguar Land Rover’s irritation with ministers, such as environment secretary Michael Gove, who have talked of banning diesel cars.
This includes referring to the term “dirty diesel” and the shock at the latest tax attack by Philip Hammond in the budget.
“We have invested billions of pounds in technology. We export more than 80 per cent of what we make. We are delivering huge benefits to the economy,” he added.
Nevertheless, growth in China and the USA helped offset the impact of the European and UK decline. China was the company’s largest sales region in 2017 with annual sales of 146,399, up 23 per cent year-on-year. North America reported a calendar year record with sales of 128,097, nine per cent up on the previous high in 2016.
Looking ahead to 2018, he said: “While there will be further challenges facing our industry, there are also exciting times ahead for Jaguar Land Rover. We continue to over-proportionally invest in delivering clean, safe, smart technologies and new vehicles to our customers.”
The company is also hoping the imminent releases of its new Jaguar E-Pace, I-Pace, and referenced Range Rovers will boost sales.
By Will Rimell