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Ministers should increase policing to prevent vehicle thefts instead of funding tax cuts in the coming year, the boss of JLR said, after the Range Rover maker was hit by a spate of thefts over the past two years.
Insurance prices for customers of the luxury-car maker have soared, which prompted JLR to relaunch its own insurance cover last year in an attempt to prevent customers cancelling orders. While car insurance premiums have risen across the board, JLR vehicles were quoted as high as £30,000 annually last year, according to industry figures.
As part of a £15mn crackdown on thefts, the carmaker has begun part-funding police operations at ports to catch stolen vehicles that criminal gangs are trying to export, chief executive Adrian Mardell said on Friday.
“That is how seriously I take this issue,” he said. “I would rather funds be put towards this rather than tax cuts next year, this is important to so many people, it goes to the fabric of the society we’re in.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to offer some tax cuts in his spring Budget, as a pre-election giveaway in the midst of a cost of living crisis in the country that has been fuelled by inflation of food and fuel prices.
JLR’s cars start from £33,000 for the Jaguar XE and go up to Range Rovers that can cost more than £160,000. On Friday, the company said it made a record pre-tax profit of £627mn in the three months to the end of December, almost three times higher than a year earlier, after sales of the latest Range Rover drove revenues to a high of £7.3bn.
The business has been plagued by thefts of its luxury vehicles, especially models without the latest security features that prevent criminals from “cloning” a remote car key and unlocking the vehicle.
It has so far spent £15mn updating older vehicles with new security software, as well as funding police analysts, the company said. Of the 12,800 models of the latest Range Rover sold, only 11 have been stolen, and none using the “keyless” entry method that impacted the older models.
Although thefts of Range Rovers have fallen by 20 per cent in the past year compared with 2022, the issue has still deterred buyers and dented the company’s reputation in the competitive luxury vehicle market.
The company will launch an electric Range Rover this year, part of a £15bn investment into electric vehicles in the coming years. The group expects to miss its electric vehicle sales targets in the UK this year, but comply with the UK’s electric vehicle quota scheme and avoid fines through higher sales of hybrid cars in the future, Mardell said.
Additional reporting by Ian Smith in London