Land Rovers began rolling off the assembly line Friday at the British brand’s first plant in India since it was bought by the Indian car giant Tata Motors. Parts are still being manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Liverpool, England, but Land Rover Freelander 2 SUV’s are now being built in the western Indian city of Pune.
India offers Jaguar great opportunities to build cars for less, Carl-Peter Forster, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Motors, told reporters. “Clearly, India can be a very attractive sourcing base, an opportunity to source increasingly high quality but lower cost components not only for India operations but for overseas operations,” he said. Forster has already indicated that Indian engineering will also play a role in the design of Jaguar Land Rover engines.
Tata bought Jaguar from Ford in 2008 for $2.3 billion. As part of that transaction, Tata Motors entered into a series of contracts to buy vehicle components and technology from Ford. Forster said those contracts begin to expire around 2015. He intends to renew them, but would like to engineer new engines in-house, combining the expertise of the group’s engineers in India and the U.K.
Auto expert Shapur Kotwal said that India’s premium car market was expected to grow strongly in the next five years with more people able to afford expensive cars.
“It’s an aspirational thing that we had grown up in the society where we had got only Marutis and before that only Fiats and Ambassadors,” said Kotwal, naming some relatively cheap Japanese, Italian and Indian cars. “So it’s natural that we want to have the best; we have been starved of good cars.”