FRANKFURT: Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has no plans to set up a manufacturing facility in India to make premium cars as the country currently is not a market for them, its CEO Ralf Speth said on Tuesday.
“Localization is a step by step process. Manufacturing is always a possibility in India. It will depend on India developing its economy. At this moment, India is not a market for premium cars in terms of volumes that justify building a plant there,” he said.
“If it were to explode in terms of GDP and come closer to the Chinese market of 24 million cars a year, we can think about a unit in India,” he said.
In the rapidly expanding luxury car market in India, however, JLR lags behind premium German rivals like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
But the company chief is not too worried as a “niche player” with a smaller product range.
“The clear task is to win and in the segments we are competing in, we are very well positioned,” he said, adding that plans are a little way off for the firm, which currently assembles cars as completely knocked down (CKD) units at its Pune plant, to manufacture them in India.
He lauded the Group’s then chairman Ratan Tata for saving two iconic British brands Jaguar and Land Rover from oblivion.
Speth, who has been at the helm of one of the automotive industry’s biggest turnarounds, believes the luxury brands were able to flourish under Tata Motors’ ownership as a result of the vision of Tata.
“So the heart and soul of the firm remains in Britain but we have to say that JLR would not exist if Mr Ratan Tata would not have bought these British brands,” he told PTI on the sidelines of the Frankfurt Motor Show.
“And then, after the Lehman Brothers crash, he invested twice in order to revive the company. In 2010, we were two very proud but struggling brands, selling below 200,000 units. There was an urgent need to restructure, improve efficiency and achieve growth.
“That has been done thanks to the policy of Ratan Tata and now Cyrus Mistry, who continues to believe in the policy to give us the freedom to grow and invest,” he said.