Jaguar Land Rover Books its Biggest-Ever Annual Loss. Sales Collapse in China

China deliveries in its fiscal year: -34%. And not getting better: in April, -45%.

Britain’s largest automaker, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), owned by  India’s Tata Motors, plunged £3.6 billion into the red in its fiscal year 2018, ended March 31, as the financial fallout from slumping Chinese demand and sinking diesel sales in the UK and Europe took its toll. It was the company’s biggest ever annual loss. Global retail deliveries fell 5.8% to 578,900 vehicles, and global revenues fell 6.1% to £24.2 billion.

Investors in Tata Motors had already been expecting the worst, because the worst of the news had already been telegraphed in February, when JLR posted a gargantuan £3.4 billion loss for the third quarter of its fiscal year that included £3.1 billion in write-downs. And in January, it had announced layoffs of 4,500 employees, of whom 4,000 would be in the UK.

The decline in sales was “due to China,” JLR said. In China, until recently JLR’s fastest growing market, deliveries plunged by 34% from the prior year, to just 98,900 vehicles. The company is now on its fourth consecutive quarter of declining Chinese sales. If anything, the trend appears to be worsening: in April, JLR’s deliveries in China collapsed by  45% from a year earlier.

For decades, China has been a boon for global automakers. Every year since 1990, annual sales have gone up, often by double digits. Between 2005 and 2017, new vehicle sales multiplied by a factor of six, propelling China to pole position as the world’s biggest car market. But that multi-decade trend came to a shuddering halt last year as light new-vehicle sales fell 4.1%, to 23.7 million units. Since July, China has registered 10 straight months of declining registrations

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