‘Q1 was fantastic for us,’ Edwards told Car Dealer. ‘April saw a slight downturn, but the real hit happened in May.
‘Since then, things have been very slow. The premium sector has suffered – and the premium 4×4 sector, even more.
‘But we are not alone. In most cases, we’ve still outperformed our rivals. The Freelander, for example, is doing better than the CR-V and RAV4.’
Declines in the UK are being partly offset by gains elsewhere. As Edwards explains, 80 per cent of Land Rover volume is exported. ‘We have thus reacted fast in terms of production.
‘We’ve been fortunate – we’ve redirected product, so we’re not carrying huge stocks of unsold cars in the UK.’
The decline in consumer confidence is to blame, says Edwards. ‘It’s a lack of ‘people want’ – and this is something largely out of our control.
When does he expect an upturn? Not in the first half of 2009. ‘It’s going to be more of the same, I fear.’
‘However, there are hopeful seeds for the second half of 2009.
‘Even so, we’ve planning for the worst case. Our estimates for 2009 are conservative – and, if it gets better, good. It’s better to assume the worst, and be surprised by things getting better…’
By Richard Aucock