Autocar magazine is reporting that the forthcoming Chery/JLR joint venture in China will be marketed under a new brand name. It says, ‘the sub-brand that will emerge from Jaguar Land Rover’s joint venture with Chery is set to spawn a series of small SUVs spun off the Freelander platform, sources in China have suggested.’ AROnline asks the question one more time: why not Rover?
The marque name fits with the current line-up, and has a great English heritage to call upon. Whether JLR fancies a punt, given that SAIC is doing reasonably well with its vaguely similar Roewe marque name is open to debate – but given the UK company’s strength in depth, and current coolness, it could easily carry it off in the world’s fastest-growing car market.
As for why a new marque is needed at all – Chinese government regulations state that for a car manufacturer to build new vehicles in that country, it needs to form a joint venture with a domestic producer – and do so under a new brand name. The Freelander-based cars should then be sold independently. JLR and Chery have said they would also establish a research and development facility in China, build engines and sell vehicles produced by the joint venture together.
The joint venture also includes the manufacture of JLR models in China. Sources suggest that production of the Freelander and Range Rover Evoque will take place in China, alongside a much-needed new Jaguar compact saloon/hatch/crossover, possibly a new 3-series rival. China is set to become JLR’s largest market in 2013 – with Land Rover being the dominant partner currently.
All models will be built at a new plant in Changshu, about 100 miles west of Shanghai, from the first half of 2014.