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Tata Motors Ltd’s Jaguar Land Rover Automotive (JLR) unit is betting on a slew of new launches, including electric and hybrid models, as it looks to overcome several near-term challenges, which, apart from Brexit, includes meeting strict emission norms and covid-led disruptions across its supply chain.

Over the next two quarters, the British automaker plans to roll out new and updated models under its Land Rover and Jaguar marquees. JLR plans to introduce a three-door version of its Land Rover Defender sport-utility vehicle (SUV) in the coming months for which it has already started accepting bookings. Others in the pipeline include the updated Jaguar F-Pace SUV, a refreshed version of the Range Rover Velar SUV and the Jaguar XE and XF sedans.

In a bid to meet new emission norms across Europe, the UK and the US, JLR also plans to expand its electric and hybrid car portfolio and has lined up the introduction of one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle PHEV) and two mild-hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) versions of its SUVs and sedans for this fiscal.

Its current portfolio includes seven PHEVs and nine MHEVs under the Land Rover and Jaguar nameplates, along with the full- electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV. Launched almost two years ago, the Jaguar I-Pace was updated with new technology features, including fast-charging capabilities in June.

Meanwhile, the Defender SUV, which was launched four months ago, continues to receive good traction. Offered in three- and five-door formats, the Defender range aims to target SUV buyers looking for on- and off-road drive capabilities. The company said the Defender model complements the Range Rover and Discovery series within the Land Rover portfolio, which notably accounts for the bulk of JLR sales.

JLR has delivered more than 9,800 units of its Defender SUV in Q2 alone and has an order book of over 35,000 units.

JLR’s global retail sales stood at 113,569 units in Q2FY21, up 53.5% sequentially but down 12% year-on-year (YoY). To be sure, Land Rover SUVs constituted 76% of total JLR sales for the September quarter. The Defender range, which saw production and deliveries pick up in Q2, contributed close to 9% of JLR’s total quarterly sales.

“We are getting a very strong response for the Defender, better than our expectations. It is a critical product and third leg of the Land Rover architecture, with the other two being the Range Rover and Discovery. It is an absolute head turner; it is a product that makes money, and it’s got great demand coming through," P.B. Balaji, group chief financial officer, Tata Motors, said in an interviewon Tuesday.

The carmaker, which saw demand slide due to fresh covid cases in its primary market of Europe, expects margins and profitability to improve as a result of its persistent cost and cash saving measures, which the company said has brought down the annual breakeven volumes from 575,000 units (last fiscal) to slightly more than 400,000 units.

“The order book continues to build up. Interestingly, most of the requirements are coming for the higher variants, which augurs well for us from a profitability perspective," Balaji said.

JLR returned to profit with a positive free cash flow of £463 million despite investing £531 million on developing new products and technologies including electric vehicle powertrains. The company reported profit before tax of £65 million on revenues of £4.4 billion in Q2.

Internally referred to as Project Charge+, JLR’s cost-cutting plan has delivered £0.6 billion of savings in Q2 and a total of £1.8 billion in H1 FY21. To be sure, JLR’s cost cuts also include rolling back of capex from the earlier earmarked £4 billion to £2.5 billion in FY21.

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