TORONTO — Each Canadian Jaguar Land Rover dealership has signed on to redesign their buildings, a “necessary evil” JLR Canada President Wolfgang Hoffmann said will provide dealers a better environment to showcase vehicles.
Hoffmann, speaking here on Thursday at the Automotive News Canada Congress, acknowledged the costs and frustrations that can come along with significant dealership revamps such as JLR’s new global dealership design.
“With every corporate program, there are people who love it and people who hate it. The people who love it [are] usually us, and the people who don’t like it so much are usually our dealer partners,” Hoffmann said. “Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil, so to speak, because if you have the most beautiful cars in the world, they need to be in the most beautiful environment. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee success.”
JLR’s global dealership design, known as “Arch,” will give dealers access to state-of-the-art technology in service centres and revamped customer lounges that Hoffman said will make it easier to showcase and sell vehicles.
“I’m convinced that our cars deserve these beautiful environments and deserve to be displayed in the right way,” he said. “And, of course, salespeople also deserve to be an atmosphere and environment that is inviting and motivating and inspiring.”
Hoffmann said Jaguar Land Rover has six future dealership locations planned for Canada, bringing its eventual store total to 32 nationwide. The dealership network expansion coincides with growth in Canadian sales, which grew 13 per cent to 13,765 units in 2017 for a sixth consecutive record year, according to the Automotive News Data Center. JLR sold 859 vehicles in Canada in January, a 6.6 per cent gain from January 2017.
“When you look at our volume, it makes sense,” Hoffmann said.
FUTURE VS. PRESENT
Hoffmann said the investments in the company’s dealer network are part of a larger strategy to not lose site of the present, even as discussions about electric vehicles and autonomy captivate the industry.
He said Jaguar Land Rover is investing heavily into electrified offerings, pointing to the upcoming Jaguar I-Pace EV expected to be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March. It is part of a strategy on the company’s part to position itself for a future that could undermine automakers’ traditional business models, he said.
Still, Hoffmann said it would be foolish to not be focused heavily on the present, where shifting consumer tastes and demands require companies to keep up in order to satisfy their customers.
“I like to talk about the future, but I’d rather be in the here and now. I’m still a strong believer that if we do the basics right, we’ll be way ahead of the competition,” Hoffmann said. “We talk about AI and autonomous driving and all that. I wish I could make some of my employees smile more often. That’s where it starts. It starts with basic customer treatment.”