China; JLR lines up Chinese partner as Far East expansion continues as it emerged that the firm has formally applied to the country's National Development and Reform Commission to set up a joint venture. JLR is now waiting for a response from the Commission, but that has moved some key staff to China in preparation for the setting up production. According to recent Chinese media reports, JLR has probably chosen Chery as a partner in the joint venture. Chery is the seventh largest Chinese car maker, selling some 700,000 units in 2010. JLR needs a local partner to get round government regulations that still tax imported cars heavily and so requires a local partner to assemble there. Sales in such emerging economies as China are fuelling JLR's global sales growth, sales in China this year have exceeded 33,600 units, up by 60% on last year. Range Rover in particular offers both a status symbol for the emerging middle classes in countries like Russia, India and China, while the ruggedness of the cars also helps in what can sometimes be challenging environments.
USA: The 2012 North American Car of the Year awards are due to be announced at next month's 2012 Detroit auto show, but the finalists have been decided and announced at a press conference in Detroit. The North American Car of the Year and Truck of the Year awards are given by a juror of 50 U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists representing all forms of media, from online to print, to broadcast and radio. The finalists for the North American Truck Of the Year are BMW X3, Honda CR-V, Range Rover Evoque. Jurors for the award voted on a total list of 24 vehicles, including seven light trucks and 17 cars. From these finalists, jurors will award points to their favorites, with the overall point leader winning the award. The Evoque has already been declared Motor Trend's 2012 SUV of the year but some journalists including Manny Lopez of The Detroit News are questioning whether the BMW X3, Honda CR-V, Range Rover Evoque trio are indeed 'trucks' at all. Lopez wrote of the trio, 'That's not to suggest they're not nice vehicles or worthy of some recognition — in a crossover category — especially if you can afford the $41,000-plus base price for the two luxury marques. But there's about as much chance the owners of either the BMW or Land Rover are going to shove lumber into their rides as they are going to self-park them at Somerset.'
Mark Williams writing in The Chicago Tribune said, 'The vehicles qualifying for the 2012 North American Truck of the Year Award are the BMW X3, the Honda CR-V and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Clearly, these vehicles aren't trucks no matter what type of common sense you're using. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to call these three vehicles SUVs. And since each one is on a version of an existing car platform, some might argue they can only be called a CUV (more like cars than SUVs).' click here for Chicago Tribune
Russia; JLR plans to increase its sales in Russia by 50% in 2012, that is by 14-15,000 vehicles a year. According to the head of JLR Russia, Frank Witterman, 'the company’s new Range Rover Evoque is in great demand in Russia and people have to wait due to limited supplies.'
The company plans to bring another five models to the Russian market in 2012 and expects to be selling even more cars in Russia in five years time.
Australia; The Range Rover Evoque has missed out on the maximum five-star safety rating in Australia. The Evoque was tested by the European New Car Assessment Programme where it scored five stars, but the Australian programme's (ANCAP) stricter regulations saw it downgraded to four stars. The frontal offset test saw the Evoque score 12.39 out of 16, but in order to score the maximum five-star rating it needed to score 12.50 or better, with protection from serious chest injury for the driver rated as 'marginal'. The Evoque scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash, and its total score was 32.49 out of 37. ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh said in statement that manufacturers needed to fix the problems highlighted by the four-star crash test ratings, 'ANCAP five-star ratings are now the standard and it is quickly becoming the case that even a good four-star rating may not be good enough in a competitive market,' said McIntosh.