[DETROIT] Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors, said on Wednesday it will push ahead with introducing more diesel vehicles in the United States despite Volkswagen's diesel-engine cheating scandal.
"We're not going to change our strategy," Joachim Eberhardt, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America, said after a speech to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, Michigan, the hub of the US auto industry.
"You have to deal with the situation as it arises," Mr Eberhardt said, in reference to the Volkswagen scandal that erupted two weeks ago after US environmental regulators reported VW had installed a "cheat device" on nearly half a million diesel cars in the country to fool US emissions testing.
"It's way too early to say" if sales of diesel vehicles in the US will suffer from the VW scandal, he said.
Diesel vehicles represent a tiny portion of the US market, compared with Europe, where they held a 53 per cent share in 2014 new car sales in the European Union. Diesel fuel is relatively more expensive in the US than in Europe.
Mr Eberhardt said that diesel engines are critical to Jaguar Land Rover's ongoing effort to meet future fuel-economy standards in the US, and that every JLR vehicle sold in the US, with the exception of the F-Type sports car, will have a diesel version by the end of 2017.
It launched the first two diesel-engine models, the 2016 Range Rover and 2016 Range Rover Discovery, two weeks ago, just before the VW scandal broke.
So far, their sales have not seemed to suffer and represent about 15 per cent of all the sales of the two models, said Stuart Schorr, Jaguar Land Rover vicepresident of communication. Their diesel engines were modified to meet US standards, he added.
According to Mr Eberhardt, Jaguar Land Rover is having a good year and expects to sell more than 500,000 vehicles worldwide.
In the first eight months of the year, the automaker sold 52,769 vehicles in the US, an increase of 15.3 per cent over the same period in 2014.