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Domestically produced Land Rover SUV hits market

2015-02-02 08:58 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing

The Range Rover Evoque SUV, which is produced by the joint venture automaker Chery Jaguar Land Rover in China, officially hit the Chinese market on Sunday.

The locally produced Evoque comes in four variants and is priced at 448,000 yuan ($71,686) to 582,800 yuan, the company said on Sunday.

Imported 2015 Evoque models are sold at between 578,000 yuan and 666,000 yuan at present.

"The price [of locally produced Evoque] is in line with expectations," Zhu Bin, a senior analyst at consultancy LMC Automotive, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Zhu noted that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is expected to continue to see fast growth in 2015 in China with cheaper domestically produced cars now available.

Evoque is the first model produced at the joint venture plant between JLR and Chinese firm Chery Automobile Co. The plant, located at Changsu, East China's Jiangsu Province, started production in the fourth quarter of 2014 and has a production capacity of 130,000 units each year.

Another two JLR vehicles will also be produced at the plant by the end of 2016, earlier media reports said.

JLR sold 122,000 units of cars in the Chinese market in 2014, up 28 percent year-on-year. It became the fourth premium brand to see annual sales in China surpass 100,000 units, after the three major German brands - Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Though the three German brands still control around 70 percent of the premium market in China, the so-called "second-tier" premium auto brands, such as JLR, Volvo and Infiniti, are catching up.

"The nearest rival for JLR in China is Volvo, as it is also pushing forward its domestic production," Beijing-based independent analyst Zhang Zhiyong told the Global Times on Sunday.

The exterior and interior of the locally produced Evoque are roughly the same as the imported ones, except that locally produced ones will have both the Chery and Land Rover names on the rear of the vehicles.

The Land Rover SUVs accounted for over 90 percent of the company's sales in China in 2014, as Chinese consumers generally prefer larger and sportier SUVs.

The SUV segment saw growth of 36.4 percent in 2014, beating the growth of 9.9 percent in passenger car market, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

But Zhang noted that growth of the SUV sector will see a gradual decline in the next few years, amid the overall slowdown and maturing market.

"Growth of the SUV market in 2015 may stay at around 30 percent, or even lower," he said.

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