Improvement in car sales and JLR planning autonomous off-road vehicles

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Following months of declining demand, Britain’s car market recovered nicely in May with an increase of 3.4%, and 192,649 new cars being registered.

JLR, however, whose engines are manufactured at the i54 site in Wolverhampton, reported much better growth. Land Rover’s sales increased by 16.8% to 6,566, while Jaguar’s sales went up by 19.7% to 3,096.

These growth rates were significantly above those recorded by bigger firms such as Vauxhall, Ford and Volkswagen. Luxury carmakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz had virtually no growth.

The latest SMMT data showed more than a 33% increase in demand for plug-ins and hybrids, while SUVs, super-minis and soft-tops were also sought-after in the best May on record.

The SMMT’s CEO, Mike Hawes, said that May’s growth, although coming after major drops last year, was encouraging and could hint that the UK car market was now beginning to return to more natural levels.

Hawes continued: “To ensure long-term stability, we need to avoid any further disruption to the market, and this will require sustainable policies that give consumers and businesses the confidence to invest in the new cars that best suit their needs.”

He added that fleet renewal was the quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance air quality, and this applied to both plug-in & hybrid technologies and the new low-emission diesel & petrol vehicles, which for many of us remained the best choice environmentally and economically.

May’s growth followed a significant 8.5% drop in May 2017 when the twin effects of uncertainty over last June’s general election and an increase in automotive excise duty hit demand.

There was an increase of 10.1% in private demand in May, with well over 83,000 Britons driving home in a brand-new vehicle. This more than offset the continued decreases in demand from the fleet and business sector, which were down 0.7% and 9.6% respectively.

Diesel sales drop for the 14th month in a row, this time by 23.6%, while petrol car registrations improved by 23.5%.

So far this year the market as a whole is still down compared to last year, with a drop of 6.8% in new registrations. Political and economic uncertainty continues to hamper demand and fleet and business confidence remains lacklustre. Fleet sales dropped by 7.1% and business sales by 16.2%, while private demand in the January – May period lagged 5.7% behind last year’s levels.

In more good news from JLR, the firm is working on its own autonomous vehicle fleet that will remain true to the brand image and be off-road monsters.

The company is working on all-terrain off-road vehicles that will retain the true soul of a Land Rover. The project code name is ‘CORTEX’.

Jaguar-Land Rover said it’s working to make sure the product will be 100% capable in all weather conditions, including rain, dirt, snow, ice or fog. To achieve this it is developing a 5D system that combines real-time video, acoustic, light detection, radar and distance sensing data.

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