JAPAN: Land Rover looks for growth in Asia
After a few years of uncertainty under different owners sales are picking up in Japan for Land Rover. In fact they have more than doubled since 2000, said managing director Matthew Taylor at the Tokyo Motor Show.
"We have had to do a certain amount of re-structuring and we are now getting some rewards for it," he added.
Sales stalled first under Rover ownership then after BMW sold off the famous off-road marque to Ford. There were problems with dealerships which had been taken on under the previous owners.
"We are now plugging into the other Ford brands, particularly Jaguar and Volvo, our preferred partners globally," added Taylor. "This means we can re-establish the brand and position it in the right way."
From 1,200 sales three years ago Land Rover will grow to 3,000 in Japan this year, mainly Range Rover and Discovery. Taylor said: "This is about where we expect to stay for the next five years, we are not looking for huge sales numbers as our vehicles are very much niche players, but they are high margin sales for us."
Land Rover does have greater ambition elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region - particularly China where the market is starting to boom.
"We are looking at that market closely," said Taylor. "We are working with Volvo to establish a network there and the way that market is growing it could be our third largest sales outlet after the UK and United States by 2010."
That could lead to Land Rover starting production in China at some point in the future he added. "We have to look at all the markets in that region and plan how we move forward. Currently Taiwan, Thailand and China are where we anticipate good growth. Beyond that we could be looking at South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines."
Land Rover started assembling Freelander models in Thailand last year.