JLR Profits Up, VW Down. Say What?

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

As a car company, closing out 2009 with a profit is a commendable feat. Generally, you count yourself amongst the blessed if you are still alive (or bailed-out by friendly governments.) Let’s look at two companies that made money in 2009. At least, at some time in 2009.

The BBC reports that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has leapt back into profit, to the tune of £55m ($84m) in the last quarter of 2009. The good news are a bit clouded by the fact that JLR had registered a loss of £60m ($91m) in the previous quarter. JLR runs a fiscal year from end of June in the previous year to the beginning of July in the next. So, an annual profit is in the cards, but they still have another 6 months to go.

According to Tata Motors, a mixture of strengthening market conditions and a slew of new models helped lift JLR into profit. Most of JLR’s 68 percent growth came from outside the UK; places like Russia, Europe, North America and China. Tata Motors is currently mulling shutting either its Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands or its plant at Solihull. Though, if growth carries on like this, maybe those sites will get a reprieve. Other cost cutting measures include new employees’ wages being cut by 20 percent and the final salary pension scheme being closed to new members. Either way, Tata is bullish with plans to create 800 new jobs at its plant in Halewood, Merseyside where a new Range Rover will be built.

From Germany, the BBC (again) reports that Volkswagen AG’s 2009 (full year) profits have dropped 80 percent despite record sales in China, the world’s largest car market. Volkswagen announced profits of €960m ($1.31b) for 2009, down from €4.75b ($6b) in 2008. But hey, even a €1 profit during carmageddon would count as a miracle. There were many factors which could have contributed to this huge fall in profits, carmageddon being the main factor. Despite record sales in the world’s largest car market, sales for the Volkswagen group, as a whole, were down 7.6 percent. Also, Volkswagen went on a bit of a spending spree. They bought a stake in Suzuki for $2.5b. VW is also in the process of a lengthy takeover of the Stuttgart upstart, Porsche. Which normally would hit the books this year or later. But knowing VW CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch, he probably built in tax-saving reserves for these purchases. Remember: In a high tax environment like Germany, profits aren’t the name of the game, free cashflow is.

Be it as it may, Volkswagen is still determined to make the year 2018 (or sooner) the year they become the world’s largest carmaker. Be careful Wolfsburgians, you don’t want to fall into the Toyota trap, over expand and jeopardize your world famous quali… oh.

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  • MarcKyle64 MarcKyle64 on Feb 28, 2010

    VW dealer service has stunk ever since the late 70s. Case in point: The family bought a 1980 Rabbit. Fun to drive? Yes. Good gas mileage? Yes. Reliable? Mostly so, it never stranded anyone. Between the persistent electrical gremlins (I had to kick the fusebox to make the left headlight work. Dealer could not replicate the problem. The radio stopped working? Pounding on the dash would fix it. Dealer couldn't locate that problem either), the exhaust manifold that kept breaking, and the persistent coolant consumption, which the dealer couldn't fix either, it got quickly moved to beater status, where it remained until sold 10 years later. A work buddy of my father bought it & overhauled the motor. He found the coolant leak, he told my father that a bolt was missing from the head and letting antifreeze enter the combustion chamber. The dealership probably didn't even take off the valve cover whule looking for that leak. Clueless. Because of the lousy dealer service, VW lost several loyal customers in my immediate family. My father was in the service and had grown to love VW's since he bought his first in 1962. We never bought anything else. At one point in 1981, we had a Karmann Ghia, the Rabbit and a Westfalia Bus. I'd like a new Rabbit, they look good and they're fun to drive - but I haven't heard anything about the dealer experience getting better, only worse. That's what kept me away when I bought my Hyundai three months ago.

    • See 1 previous
    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Feb 28, 2010

      I would think the battery problem could have been easily found by testing the specific gravity of the acid. If the Pb had been damaged, there should have been a corresponding change to the acid. Any chemists or techs out there?

  • Nicodemus Nicodemus on Feb 28, 2010

    "Tata Motors is currently mulling shutting either its Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands or its plant at Solihull" Small point of pedantry...Both Castle Brom and the (Land)Rover Solihull plant are in the West Midlands. In fact both plants are located in the borough of Solihull to further complicate matters about 5 miles apart.

    • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Mar 01, 2010

      Good point. However, my defence is that I'm southerner and hardly ever venture beyond the Watford gap.

  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!