Jaguar Land Rover became the fastest-growing car brand in 2016 because 50-year-old affluent Americans bought up its performance SUVs and sports cars.
But the red-hot U.S. auto market has begun to cool this year, and even Jaguar Land Rover isn't totally immune. Joe Eberhardt, Jaguar Land Rover North America President and CEO, told TheStreet at the New York International Auto Show that the U.S. auto market has "plateaued."
He said rising inventory levels, manufacturers using more incentives to counter slowing sales - which only destroys brand value - and the consumer shift to SUVs over cars all "makes for a little less comfortable environment this year compared to the last couple of years."
"I hope the industry will have some discipline not to fall back into the bad behaviors of the past," Eberhardt said.
Automakers sold 1.56 million new cars and trucks in March, a 1.6% decline vs. the prior year. That calculates to an annualized rate of 16.6 million cars and trucks for the year, which would be down from the 17.55 million seen in 2016.
In November, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) predicted that sales of new cars and trucks would reach 17.1 million in 2017.
"We're headed toward a stable market for U.S. auto sales, not a growing market," NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly said at the time.
Even still, it's hard not to recognize the comeback of the Jaguar brand.
The company's F-Pace mid-size crossover SUV class came to market in 2016 and in many ways took Jaguar "back to its roots," says Eberhardt.
Jaguar is now competing in the core segment of the U.S. auto market, which has brought new buyers into the brand.
Jaguar Land Rover notched record sales of 604,009 vehicles in the 2016/2017 fiscal year, up 16% year-over-year, and exceeding 600,000 for the first time in the company's history. Sales in March were up 21% from the prior year.
Meanwhile, the company just released its most expensive Range Rover to date - priced at $200,000 and boasting 510 horsepower.
What U.S. sales slowdown.
Editors' pick: Originally published April 13.