Jaguar, Land Rover enter Indian market

June 29, 2009

, MUMBAI, Jun 29 – India\’s Tata Motors on Sunday announced the entry of luxury British marques Jaguar and Land Rover into India, but insisted there were no plans to assemble them in the country for the time being.

Six models — three each from Jaguar and Land Rover — will be sold from Monday in India, which is amongst the world\’s fastest-growing global automobile markets.

"This launch ushers in a new breed of vehicles in India, which had been disconnected with consumers here for some years," Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, told a news conference in Mumbai.

The Jaguar range includes the XF, XFR and XKR models while the Land Rover brands coming to India will be Rover Discovery 3, Range Rover Sport and the basic Range Rover.

All models will sell for between 6.3 million rupees (about 131,000 dollars) and 9.2 million rupees at a new purpose-built showroom in Mumbai.

"The Jaguar and Land Rover cars had been condemned in the downturn (but) they are terrific brands," Tata said.

Senior Jaguar and Land Rover executives were reluctant to divulge how many cars they expected to sell in India, where the luxury car market already includes rivals like Italy\’s Porsche, Germany\’s BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

"India\’s premium car market is small but with a huge potential," said Land Rover Managing Director Phil Popham.

Tata Motors on Friday posted its first consolidated full-year net loss in eight years at 25 billion rupees (520 million dollars), partly blamed on a slump in sales at Jaguar Land Rover, which it bought from Ford last year.

Jaguar Land Rover global sales dropped nearly a third in the 10 months to the end of March to 167,000 vehicles from 246,000 the previous year.

That prompted the company to say it would not rule out further job losses and plant closures in Britain, where the cars are produced.

Jaguar Land Rover chief executive David Smith told reporters the British workforce were "realistic" about the possibility.

"If the market dictates, future jobs and plant shutdowns cannot be ruled out" if the economic situation deteriorates, he added.

Some 2,000 workers have lost their jobs in a tumultuous couple of years for both luxury brands, but Ratan Tata said there were no plans at present to switch production to India to reduce overheads.

"Whether we produce or assemble Jaguar or Land Rover in India will depend on the business case at that time," he said. "I don\’t think we have any plans for the present moment to do so."

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