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Jaguar Land Rover North America sales fall in December ahead of new models

Limited sales incentives also damped demand for Tata's luxury brand

The Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid is displayed during the auto trade show AutoMobility LA at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Nov. 30, 2017.   © Getty Images

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury automaker owned by India's Tata Motors, saw its North America sales dip in December ahead of the launch of new models this year. 

   Jaguar Land Rover sold 11,394 cars and sport-utility vehicles across North America last month, a 9% decline over the year-earlier period, it said in a statement on Thursday. Limited sales incentives also damped demand for the British marquee brand.

   Sales of Land Rover fell 4% to 7,980 vehicles, while Jaguar sales plunged 20%. Volumes of Range Rover models slumped as much as 50%, ahead of the launch of upgraded versions early this year. Also, sales incentives were down 15% in December, compared with a 19% increase in November, Morgan Stanley said in a report. 

   Most major U.S. automakers reported a sales drop in December, capping the year with the first annual decline since 2009. According to Autodata, which tracks industry sales, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of U.S. car and light truck sales in December fell to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million units a year ago, Reuters reported.

   However, JLR reported a record annual sale with a 9% increase in 2017.

   The company is set to launch its first electrified vehicles, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid models, and the Jaguar I-PACE all-electric SUV this year, said Joe Eberhardt, president and chief executive for Jaguar Land Rover North America. It is also set to roll out its newest five-seat compact Jaguar SUV E-PACE in January.

   Analysts are bullish about JLR's prospects over the next few months, given the planned new launches. 

   "We expect strong sales from JLR in the fourth quarter as Range Rover and Range Rover Sport upgrade comes in, plus E pace launch," Morgan Stanley said.  

   Mumbai-based Tata Motors acquired the luxury automaker from Ford Motor in 2008 for $2.5 billion. JLR accounts for more than half of Tata Motors' revenue and nearly 90% of its operating profit. 

   Tata Motors lost 0.8% in Mumbai trading on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index gained 0.5%.

   --Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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