Sales of Jaguar’s new XF model have helped to make the Midland luxury car company the best performing automotive manufacturer in Western Europe in terms of percentage growth, new figures have shown.
According to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the number of Jaguar’s being registered in Western Europe in April rose 70.3 per cent year-on-year – way above any other volume manufacturer.
The data shows that during April Jaguar sold 3,949 vehicles – the majority thought to be new XFs although there is no breakdown of models. In April last year sales stood at 2,319.
The news will be welcomed by the company’s soon-to-be owner, India’s Tata Motors and is likely to leave a sour taste in the mouth of current parent, Ford.
Ford’s group sales – which include Jaguar and Land Rover – were up 6.1 per cent and until Tata’s acquisition is complete Jaguar and Land Rover’s figures will remain in the Blue Oval’s stable.
Jaguar’s main rivals were left trailing in its wake with Audi up 9.5 per cent, BMW 26.7 per cent and Mercedes 14.7 per cent.
However, things were not quite so good for Land Rover.
The ACEA data shows that sales of the 4x4s fell 15.8 per cent year-on-year in April. In all, the company saw 5,783 new vehicles registered in Western Europe last month compared with 6,867 in 2007.
Ernst & Young’s UK Automotive specialist based in Birmingham, Eric Wallbank, said: "The ACEA’s figures give a clear indication that the region’s automotive manufacturers are back on track.
"The popularity of Jaguar’s new XF model is starting to show in the statistics."
As far as the slump in Land Rover was concerned, he added: "The reasoning behind this is unclear, but could be the result of increased competition from a number of volume producers who have recently launched small SUVs.
"The results could also perhaps be the first signs that we are starting to see a drop off in the demand for SUVs."
There was further good news for the region’s automotive industry with the continuing healthy performance of Mini.
The ACEA figures show new registrations up 17 per cent in April at 14,006 units compared with 11,970 last year. For the year to date, sales are up more than 27 per cent.
"This is further boosted by the announcement that the manufacturing capacity at the Hams Hall engine plant, which produces engines for the new Mini, is set to be increased as the same engines are soon to be used in the next generation BMW 1-Series," said Mr Wallbank.
The region’s other major carmaker, Toyota, in Derbyshire, saw a small decline last month of 0.1 per cent.
In the UK as a whole, 175,668 new vehicles were registered last month, up 3.2 per cent on the same month last year, when sales were 170,163.
For the period January to April the figures are virtually unchanged year-on-year. In the European Union states overall sales were up 9.4 per cent last month but virtually unchanged for the January to April period compared with last year.
Mr Wallbank said: "The latest figures from the ACEA demonstrate that the European automotive sector appears to have been largely untouched by the current economic turmoil.
"When looking at the first four months of 2008, compared to the same period last year, the performance of the auto industry in Western Europe has largely remained flat, however the real success story has been in the new EU Member States, which have been the driving force behind the growth of the sector in the year to date."
"Demand has increased by an impressive 13 per cent, with notable rises in Poland and Romania.
"It is important to note, however, that although undoubtedly a 'good news’ story for the auto industry, the auto market in these former Eastern Bloc countries is significantly smaller than in Western Europe," he added.