Press Report : JLR set for a radical shake-up

Steve Cropley, Editor-in-Chief, Autocar, 28th May, 2010

Jaguar Land Rover’s new boss, Carl-Peter Forster, has emerged from 100 days of silence to reveal plans for a major product shake-up.

The radical vision includes greater separation for the Land Rover and Range Rover brands, the launch of an all-new, mid-size Range Rover between LRX and Range Rover Sport, a potential for the Tata Motors to manufacture ‘own-brand’ diesel and petrol engines to be shared with JLR and the opening of a plant in China to assemble around 20,000 Freelander-based models per year by 2014.

Forster, the ex-GM Europe chief who became Tata Motors’ CEO in February, was accompanied by Dr Ralph Speth, the ex-Ford executive who joined JLR as CEO (and Forster’s right-hand-man) at the same time.

Speaking a day after Tata Motors announced a 40 per cent profit jump that included a modest return to profitability for Jaguar and Land Rover, the pair said their future strategy was “step-by-step expansion, not at the expense of profits, that will add new models, new engines and new derivatives to our three ranges, Jaguar, Range Rover and Land Rover.”

Reports that newly profitable JLR has shelved plans to close one of its three UK manufacturing plans are incorrect, Forster said. Under present plans either Solihull or Castle Bromwich will close around the middle of this decade — but no further decision about which would be saved is likely to come before the end of a product review. Forster praised “the entrepreneurial spirit” of his Tata-led group, which he said is creating a new culture at Gaydon.

He confirmed that Jaguar was investigating the business case for a small Jaguar saloon and was proceeding quickly with the new, sub-XK Jaguar roadster, a plan dear to the heart of Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata.

“We are looking at clay models now,” said Forster, “and we are all pretty keen on what we see.”

[Source: Autocar]

[Editor’s Note: Any AROnline readers wishing to read the full text of Steve Cropley’s interview with Tata Motors’ CEO, Carl-Peter Forster, can do so via this link to his separate JLR boss on firm’s future story.]

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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  1. David 3500 says:

    It’s good to hear of confidence in developing new models for Land Rover in the future. However, what a shame the launch of an all-new, mid-size Range Rover between LRX and Range Rover Sport, will make the Range Rover marque even more accessible, despite Carl-Peter Forster’s plan to create greater separation between the Land Rover and Range Rover brands.

    The two observations seem to conflict somewhat. The current Range Rover and smaller Sport range both have a distinctly different appeal from each other. However, the smaller LRX and a new mid-size model will make the Range Rover name less exclusive.

    What will this ultimately mean for the Discovery, beyond the speculative reports in certain weekly motoring publications? A rethink on the branding for the LRX and the new mid-range model is needed sooner rather than later.

  2. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Presumably, a new Discovery will be badged as a Range Rover? There would then be four Range Rover models – a full model range – with Land Rover reserved for the more agricultural Defender. Overall, a positive story I think.

  3. David 3500 says:

    I am afraid that I have to disagree with you. The problem with this strategy is that it is likely to devalue the Range Rover brand and its associated exclusivity and aspirational appeal by being this accessible.

    Twenty years ago the launch of the Discovery did wonders for taking the Land Rover name onwards and upwards in the market place beyond the utilitarian 90 and 110 models. Land Rover has already devalued the exclusivity of the Autobiography moniker by applying it to a standard line-build flagship derivative in the Range Rover range and also, several years ago, on two limited edition versions that did not embrace in their respective specifcations the personalising opportunities to be had through bespoke colour and trim initiatives.

    However, the limited edition Range Rover Sport Autobiography, with its special body styling and special two-tone interior colour schemes, does a far better job.

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