Around 5000 JLR customer cars across the UK are off the road awaiting replacement parts
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) CEO Adrian Mardell said the firm is "really unhappy" about delays at its new parts logistics hub in Leicestershire, which have left thousands of cars in the UK off the road.
Speaking to journalists as JLR detailed its financial performance in the previous quarter, Mardell spoke candidly about the challenges that have arisen from JLR downsizing its UK parts supply network from 18 warehouses to one 'super-centre' - the Mercia Park complex in Leicestershire.
It was first reported by Car Dealer Magazine that some 10,000 cars were off the road around the UK, with dealers unable to fit replacement parts due to delays at Mercia Park, and Autocar then revealed that dealers had been advised to use second-hand parts in a bid to clear the backlog.
Mardell confirmed to Autocar that "the level of performance in after-sales has been adversely impacted" by the hold-ups, and said coming to a resolution is a prevailing priority for the firm over the coming months.
"It was a planned transition but the transition is taking longer than we would originally have planned," he said, "and, just to be clear, that’s something that nobody wished for, and that’s something that, as an organisation with our partner we’re working with here, we obviously have responsibility for the change.”
He added that the delays are something “we do need to apologise for, as well”.
“To be very, very clear, this is something we are really unhappy about, and just like the challenges with vehicles being stolen, this is something right at the top of this organisation, and right at the top of our partner organisation [Unipart Logistics] as well."
Mardell said he is in regular communication with Unipart, because “this is right at the top of the escalation for resolving what we need to do here".
He added that, in October, for the first month since Mercia Park came online, the number of parts waiting to be shipped to dealers fell. He acknowledged reports that some 10,000 JLR cars were off the road in the UK awaiting parts, but said that figure has come down and today’s tally is less than 5000.
“We are making quite significant progress but, to be clear, we’re not through this yet. It will continue to remain at this high level of focus until we are through it, which realistically is likely to be next quarter rather than this quarter.”
JLR turns to second-hand parts to ease backlog
Mardell's comments come after the owner of a Range Rover Evoque accused JLR of repairing her vehicle using second-hand parts in its race to clear the repairs backlog.
As first reported by Car Dealer Magazine, the Mercia Park delays were revealed by Andrew Woolliscroft, UK client director at JLR, during a dealer summit in October.
“Mercia is a bottleneck and we have a backlog of orders,” said Woolliscroft. The shortage of parts had “nearly stopped workshops from being able to operate," he added.
He said the company had run out of courtesy vehicles as well as the space required to store customers' cars for repair and predicted the crisis would last until the end of November.
Among those owners waiting for a part was Bob Archell. His Range Rover Sport P400e was diagnosed with a faulty wiring harness in April.
"I was on the phone so much to Land Rover I think they lost patience with me," he said. Its new replacement finally arrived in September but, by then, Archell had rejected the car. His case is ongoing.
Meanwhile, an employee at a JLR dealership has told Autocar that to beat the waiting list for new parts and speed up repairs, the manufacturer has instructed dealers to use second-hand parts.
"JLR has told retailers to source non-genuine parts to get cars fixed and out of their workshops for the last six months," he said.
"One JLR senior manager even suggested we use second-hand parts if necessary, although this was ridiculed by retailers."
Autocar contacted the employee to verify his claims but he did not respond.
However, they are backed up by an owner's experience of her four-year-old, diesel-powered Range Rover Evoque, which, after it broke down, was repaired by an official Land Rover dealer using second-hand parts.
The owner, Laura Brannock, who lives in Castle Douglas, says her car first broke down in April. It was eventually inspected in June by the dealer, who told her the new replacement parts it required wouldn't be available until early December.
In August, Brannock, who relies on her Evoque to take her son to regular hospital appointments, contacted Reject My Car (RMC), a consumer advocacy service, for its assistance.
Following its intervention, within days the parts became available and were fitted to the car. Brannock then drove it to RMC's offices near Glasgow so the company could inspect the repair.
Its engineer reported that it had been fitted with a refurbished engine and turbochargers, had very little oil and was displaying 23 fault codes.
"In our experience, the number one complained-of brand is JLR, with its failure to fix, due to lack of parts, the number one cause of customer rejections," said Ian Ferguson, founder and managing director of RMC.
He has advised Brannock not to drive the car while the firm pursues her case.
The dealer did not respond to Autocar's request for a comment but a spokesperson for JLR said that only genuine Land Rover parts had been used for the repair of Brannock's Evoque, that her vehicle was out of warranty and that she had been kept mobile at no cost to her.
Regarding the use of second-hand parts, they said: “It is JLR’s top priority to resolve the temporary parts delays some of our retailers are experiencing and minimise the impact to our clients.
“The use of parts locally sourced by our retailers for replacement and repair is a long-established practice in exceptional circumstances, provided those parts are fit for purpose and meet JLR specifications. This is clearly stated as part of any warranty agreement."