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Auto blogFri, 25 Jul 2014 16:30:00 EST
Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?
Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.
A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.
The heads of Jaguar Land Rover are having a busy couple of weeks opening factories. Just days after inaugurating the company's first overseas plant in China, the automaker's new Engine Manufacturing Center in the UK is being inaugurated, as well. The plant near Wolverhampton, England, marks the first time in decades that JLR is building its own powerplants in-house. Further signaling the importance of this launch for the business, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were on hand and even tweeted about it.
The factory's first major project is to build JLR's latest Ingenium four-cylinders, starting with the 2.0-liter diesel version. "Our new Engine Manufacturing Centre is an important step in advancing the competitiveness and capability of the UK automotive sector. The production of in-house engines will support the expansion of the UK supply chain providing critical mass for inward investment," said Trevor Leeks, plant operations director in the automaker's announcement.
Opening the doors to the Engine Manufacturing Center has been years in the making for JLR. The plant was first announced in September 2011 and broke ground in June 2012. Building it cost the company 500 million pounds ($800 million) and created 1,400 new jobs. Of course, being a state-of-the-art factory, considerations were made to make the place as energy efficient as possible. That meant installing the UK's largest solar array with 21,000 panels to produce about 30 percent of the site's electricity needs.
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing markets for Land Rover, so it makes sense that the automaker is looking to set up shop in the region. According to Automotive News, Jaguar Land Rover is in talks with the people of Saudi Arabia to build a factory in the country at an expected initial cost of $1.2 billion. Still in the early stage of talks, the proposed facility could start up by 2017 using locally sourced materials such as steel and aluminum.
Such an arrangement could be beneficial for both entities as Saudi Arabia looks to diversify its oil-reliant economy and Land Rover could get local production capacity of around 50,000 units. The report also says that the agreement talks about the possibility for Jaguar models to be built at the same plant further down the road.
This won't be the first vehicle produced in Saudi Arabia - that honor goes to the KSU Gazal-1 - but it will be the first from a major global automaker.