Land Rover saw its monthly UK sales plunge by nearly two-thirds in November as the consumer spending crisis took a brutal toll on showrooms across the UK.
The Midlands’ best known manufacturer suffered a sales fall of more than 64 per cent last month as the recession began to bite deeply into household budgets.
The gloomy news for November followed two consecutive heavy sales falls for Land Rover in the previous two months, with September figures tumbling from around 10,000 for 2007 to just 5,600 and October’s by nearly 60 per cent to 1,283 vehicles.
But November saw the biggest fall yet in the current downturn, as Land Rover prepares to cut 850 agency staff in the run-up to Christmas, with a total of 600 voluntary redundancies sought across JLR in two separate job loss programmes.
But Tata stablemate Jaguar, buoyed by the highly successful XF launch, saw its performance hold up better for November, with sales falling marginally from 1,096 in November 2007 to 972 last month.
Bosses at Land Rover say the shrinking availability of credit is hitting sales, with little sign of an upturn on the horizon.
Spokesman Mark Foster warned last month that conditions were unlikely to improve for at least 18 months.
“We know we have got customers who want vehicles but the availability of credit is sometimes making it very difficult for them to go through with the purchase.
“There is a continuing uncertainty and volatility in the market which is making people hold off from committing themselves.
“There is no doubt that the next 18 months are going to be extremely difficult - this is a global economic downturn.”
With four out of every five Land Rovers built going overseas, Lode Lane bosses hope that growth in markets such as China, Brazil, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa will help sales recover.
Land Rover has already put in place a series of measures to cushion the impact of the downturn, with night shifts axed and a near three-week shutdown over Christmas and New Year to save costs.
And 300 JLR production workers, with the majority from Land Rover, have already taken advantage of an innovative scheme offering leave of up to three months in return for temporary 20 per cent pay cuts.
At Jaguar, sales have held up more robustly in recent months, with the Castle Bromwich-built XF - the replacement for the long-running S-Type - helping to fight off the worst effects of the downturn.
Across the UK as a whole, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show new car registrations fell by 36.8 per cent in November to a total of 100,333 units.
Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “November has been another difficult month for the motor industry and whilst some consumers may have delayed their purchases to take advantage of the recent VAT reductions, overall demand continues to fall.
“Urgent action is now required to ease access to credit and finance, both to support consumers and meet the cash flow needs of the industry.”