They might be two very different brands but these days Jaguar and Land Rover (about as British as it comes) are owned by India’s super company, the Tata Group, founded in 1868 and by my last reckoning had annual revenues close enough to 5 percent of India’s GDP. It’s a massive group with hundreds of companies encompassing a huge range of different industries, with automotive being just one of those interests.
Mr Ratan N Tata is the current chairman of the group and holds a B.Sc. (Architecture) degree in structural engineering from Cornell University, USA and has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, USA. He also likes cars, which is probably not the major reason he chose to buy two of the most iconic British automotive brands, but it sure helps things along when it comes to backing what should be one of the most prolific new model/update periods in history for both marques over the next five years.
Phil Popham, global boss of both brands has previously stated that the Jaguar Land Rover group will launch up to forty new models and updates over that five-year period commencing with Evoque this year and an all-new Range Rover for 2012. Jaguar has already kicked off with their XKR-S muscle car as well as the super efficient XF 2.2D.
We also know that Jaguar will launch a proper two-door sports car (not soon enough for some) and are determined to play in the smaller passenger car segment, which includes Audi’s A4 and BMW’s 3 Series. That said Phil Popham was very clear this morning when he indicated that although they will enter that particular segment with a smaller Jaguar, they won’t be competing with the German brands as they will deliver a more premium offering.
There’s also talk in the Jaguar camp of an SUV or more likely, a crossover vehicle that might compete in the same segment as the X5, Q7 and ML-Class but again, Jaguar will most likely see their entry into this field as a more premium offering than the others but details are scarce on that subject.
Not only do they have the financial backing for these plans but also under Phil Popham’s leadership the group is well and truly in the ‘black’ recoding a sizeable profit this year of one billion pounds. Moreover the group will invest 1.5 billion pounds per annum in R&D over those five years.
They’ve also hired another 1000 engineers and an extra 1500 people to work on Evoque, so things are certainly ramping up from a people power perspective. Some of those people have defected from companies such as Porsche, Lexus and Volkswagen, which clearly demonstrate they are on the right road as far as design quality and direction are concerned.
New Technology will also play a major role in new car offerings from Jaguar and Land Rover but it won’t be all about Hybrids and fuel cells. Phil Popham says that “customers are not yet ready to pay to be green” so green for the JLR group will be more about taking weight out of the vehicles. The example he gave was in regards to the next Range Rover; which will lose more than 400 kilograms and will most likely be powered by a smaller but more powerful engine due to the lesser weight to pull.
With the GFC all but over for many regions, the timing for this turnaround could not be better. The JLR group can look forward to substantial growth in emerging markets such as, India, China, Brazil and the Asia Pacific region, while Africa is another market that will fire up one day.
The future looks bright for the Jaguar Land Rover Group, but you get the impression that complacency at any level, is not an option.