Tata, Jaguar, Land Rover

Like all Indian’s I too walk a little prouder in London with the Jaguar and Land Rover brands almost owned by Tata. But from a business point of view I am not so sure. The Jaguar brand has been struggling for decades. I owned a couple years ago and constantly had transmission problems. The jaguar is famous for them. And not since the e – type 30 years ago has Jaguar come up with something really revolutionary. Other than the traditional Land Rover used primarily for defence and off-road activity, the road models also face mechanical problems and are nowhere as reliable as the original basic Land Rover, which is terrific…..

… so while we celebrate two great British Icons now being owned by an Indian company, lets not forget that the British and the European Unions may become even harder to deal with, now that the Brands are owned by a former colony British Union’s are especially tough, and the plants in the UK have traditionally been plagued by strikes.
With the current surge in oil prices, and both brands being great gas guzzlers, I am not sure how they will fare as the US consumer begins once again, as it did the last time when gas prices shot up, start going for fuel efficient cars. The US economy is in a tail spin in any case, and with the dollar collapsing, imports are becoming more and more expensive. Japanese cars in recent times have shown that they are the ones that are most innovative in design, engineering and fuel efficiency.
So lets celebrate with caution. Now, if Tata could buy Honda !!!

21 thoughts on “Tata, Jaguar, Land Rover

  1. Dear Shekhar,
    Jaguars have always had mechanical problems but they do have a strong and respected brand name. During the last few years, Ford has worked very hard to fix most of Jaguar’s problems and the cars are very good now, but the brand has lost its Charisma. Due to gas price and the quality of other luxury brands (BMW and Mercedes) the sales have been declining for many years, so Ford has good reason to divest the brand (plus they need cash for NA Operations). During the last year there has been speculation that the potential suitor may not be interested in just buying Jaguar, and that Ford will have to throw in Land Rover or Aston Martin or both into the deal to make the deal attractive, and that’s what it seems has happened.
    Studying in Michigan, we did many case studies on why Ford bought the brand, mainly for vanity in 89, and why it has not been able to grab enough market share in the US Luxury Market. They bought it for $2.5bn in 89, which was considered a billion more than the market value of Jaguar at that time, and have since spent close to $10 billion to revitalize it. It is definitely a very valuable brand and the quality is very good now – the S-Type is my favorite, and I’ll be proud if Tata’s owned it. I hope they can position it better in the US and make it work.
    Even in New York, when I go to The Pierre hotel which is owned by the Taj Group now, again Tatas, and I see the Indian Flag flying high over Central Park, I feel really proud. They even have a drink called “Mumbai Martini” on the menu and I love that.
    Best Regards,

  2. Somehow I don’t think Tatas are buying those brands just to make rest of us Indians feel proud. Even though Jamsetji always wanted to take on the British, that was a century ago and two generations away. I wonder what kind of business incentive there is to buy these brands. May be higher margin of profit for their steel, may be these are the stepping stones to buying bigger brands, or just engineering know hows…

  3. Bang on target dude…
    Now ,if Tata could by Honda!!!…WOOOOOH…or say TOYOTA!….hahahaha
    Toyota was established some 20 years after TATAs and now its 20 times bigger !
    We must have common rule program very soon in our parliament! it sure will help for over all growth !
    there are visionaries but their hands are tied!…
    consider films…you had to step out to prove your metal!
    i saw Nitain Chandrakant Desai’s interview. he said Oliver Stone had come to India while planning Alexander. the film was worth 650 crs.( bap re bap!) . he liked the locations which Mr. Desai showed him. and when Mr. Desai showed him our studios, Stone smiled and just said one line ‘ are these studios or barracks!’. Desai said i was speechless and hurt.
    Now, if TATA could buy…

  4. Shekhar,
    Kudos to the our brilliant business community for their courage and strategy. I was reading somewhere that an engineer in India desgned a steering component in 3 months which one famed UK engineering firm could not accomplish in 3/5 years.
    I think we should also stop and look at what we are doing to our beautiful country or more appropriately the country which was once beautiful. Our waters are turning from clear to black. Our soils won’t be fit for our children to play in. If you and others have not read Silent Spring yet, I highly recommend it.
    Well meaning Green Revolution has turned Punjab’s soil and groundwater into poison. Groundwater is choked with pesticides, insecticides and other toxic substances. People are drinking untreated contaminated water. Entire villages have come in the grip of cancer. Multiple Love Canals are present in India and the disastrous effects of these on human life are not too far away.
    What does one do to wake up these farmers and business owners who are happily pumping hazardous chemicals into the environment in which they live? These chemicals are hazardous to human health in concentrations of very few parts per billion. Do too many people have to become sick and die before we realize we need to do something really fast?
    Manufacturing plants around the country will have to make major infrastructural changes to makes their processes better and less polluting. What would it take for an environmental inspector (i know they exist in India) not to get bribed and make the manufacturing plants to meet the discharge limits of the contaminants they are creating.
    The link below shows the plight of one such river.

  5. since it makes india proud i say ‘GREAT, WHY NOT ? ‘ but beyond that personally im HAPPY with my maruti ! years ago, my then hubby got himself a merc of the latest model ( a feel good factor for most guys i think ! ).
    my association with cars is different….. i like a people’s car that functions great, fits into the SMALL spaces it is required to on bombay roads, is easy to drive as i like the privacy to think my own thoughts or listen to music while i am driving :).

  6. The one thing I am totally convinced about is that Tata does not make stupid decisions in business. They made the decision to bid for Jaguar/Land Rover when the price of oil was rising so I believe that they have factored that in. Since we are trying to guess at their motives, here is mine:
    I believe Tata is buying $12 billion worth of technology and brand recognition for $2 billion–it is essentially picking up almost a century of recognition along with all the R&D that Ford has poured into the brands over the last couple of decades from its own resources and those of the other marquee brands they own–Volvo, Aston Martin etc. Ford is only doing this because they need the money desperately, not because they don’t like the brands any more.
    Finally, there is a reason why both Tata and Mahindra are among three finalists–everyone who matters knows that the future for engineering & management expertise and manufacturing efficiency is in India. There is very little doubt that over the next two of three decades, India will take over the global automotive lead in quality and cost from the Japanese. Neither the Japanese or the Americans will surrender this position–they will be smart enough to become partners.
    I think the best thing Indians can do is have complete faith in our business titans and then sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. There is no need for self doubt.

  7. may i ask a question then, Jayanta ? why is it then that no Indian car that is developed and engineered in India (as against an imported technology) is actually anywhere near as good as a Japanese or a German car ? I agree we are the prime manufacturers of car parts in the world – but how many of them are the high end Car parts ? I would love to be convinced of your argument – as also how you value the brands at $ 12 billion ? Unfortunately what has happened in the Jag and the Rover is that they have NOT kept up with technological innovations like the Japanese have.

  8. As far as the Indian automobile industry is concerned, the actual indigenization of the engine and transmission as aggregates started with the TATA group’s INDICA platform. This marked the beginning of the “Indian car manufacturing industry” so to say. Now why I say this is because this was the first time research and development of aggregates at the component and functional level happened in India.
    It is therefore very obvious that if we compare a 10-year-old industry with a 100-year-old one then it will not be very hard to spot the differences in quality and reliability as pointed out by Shekhar.
    However the best method to measure health and potential of any industry is to examine its vision, growth and adaptability and I think the Indian automobile industry would score very high on all three. As far as the Landrover and Jaguar deal is concerned I would look at it as a very bold step taken by an Indian company to hasten the process of the technological divide, which is prevalent at this moment between them and us. The landrover and jaguar engine platforms would give the tats a very good launch pad to produce and develop lightweight high power engines, which is the need of the hour. I agree with the fact that these engines have low fuel efficiencies, however with minor modifications in the fuel and engine managements systems these could also be made very competitive.
    I think doubting Tata motors in this regard would not be appropriate considering the fact that their newly launched BS III model of trucks are all based on the Mercedes 312 engine which came in the 1950’s and have best efficiencies in their class.

  9. Respested sir Shekhar,
    I am a young guy.just14.but i wanted to ask u that, wahat I read is that “jaguar n landrover r almost owned by tata.” What do this mean?
    And why is tata launching so good cars in foreign countries?Why not in our country?and has tata owned kores too? and does Mercedez-benz uses kores’s steel?it is being used in nano’s build?

  10. Dear Sir,
    I really admire the way you presented the stats from both the perspective, but track record shows that TATA’s have never gone for the hostile bid. Probably this could impress you……….
    In 1911, Sir Frederick Upcott, chief commissioner of the Indian Railway Board in British India, said, “Do you think the Tatas propose to make steel rails to British specifications? I will eat every pound of steel rail they succeed in making!” Almost a century later, you could be forgiven for believing that the neo-colonial mindset hasn’t changed.
    In 1988, 77 years after Sir Upcott’s derogatory remarks, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher privatised British Steel, maker of rails for British Rail. In 1999, British Steel was merged with Dutch steelmaker Koninklijke Hoogovens, and was renamed Corus. In 2007, Tata Steel bought Corus. History does come around, after all.
    These are amongst the very few stats I could put in front of you and i can put such many more……
    Its only believe in Oneself and One’s own capabilities that makes a person win against all odds and TATA’s have once again proved that the can make a difference.
    Give A side We Are Coming………

  11. Dear Shekher,
    I have been living in UK for the past 4 yrs and
    and feel proud when i hear people say ‘some india company by the name TATA bought yet an another British company’.
    My feeling is that these kind of acquistions by NON BRITISH companies will cause some people to change their opinion about india who still refuse to take note of the acheivements of indians.
    Iam totally convinced about is that over 100 year old Tata when making a decison as major as this must have taken all the aspects into considerations..
    God Luck to TATA..

  12. Hi Shekhar,
    Refering to your point about japanese and german auto makers, I would like to point that as early as about 15 years ago the Tata LCVs gave a bloody nose to the Japanese LCVs in the Indian market brought by Eicher and other collaborators. Recently, when Honda introduced motorcycle in the Indian market local media predicted doom for indian motorbikes. But look what happened, Honda’s bike model flopped and Bajaj Pulsar is still the market leader.

  13. I have worked on Jaguar cars, Rolls Royce and Land Rover for the last 30 years, I have mates who work on B.M.W Audi and Mercs. You people read to much about reliability issues with jaguar Cars.The German brands have the same problems has Jaguar have ask any B.M.W. technician who were working over time ie. 12 hour days due to the faulty engine bores requiring new engines to fix the fault, or the Merc A class the was falling over on to its side due to bad engineering, or the Audi’s stuck at the dealers because of faulty coils and the dealers unable to get new ones.
    Most problems with Jags now are down to electronic faults mechanical faults are a thing of the past.please dont forget the gearbox or transmission problems people refer to are on components built by Z.F a GERMAN company.
    In conclusion do not knock Jaguar or Land Rover they are no worse than any other car maker

  14. Dear denis, thank you for your comment. You may be right, transmission problems on the Jag may be a thing of the past – and certainly the new Jag that has just come out in the US is getting rave reviews. The readers of this blog will be fascinated to hear from some one who has worked with jaguar for 30 years – specifically how do you and your colleagues feel about the take over of jaguar/rover by Tata, and hwo do you see the future ? shekhar

  15. Dear Sir,
    Jaguar are now making exceptional cars – even the X-Type as been improved. TATA have been shrewd – they have acquired a brand on the up and with their past history and existing infrastructure TATA will help Jaguar globally.
    At least Jags have a string identity – most other modern cars look exactly the same, In the U.K. most people I know are positive about the acquisition. As for reliability, I have a 2 year old Audi that has needed basically a new engine after just 55000 miles!
    I wish TATA well.

  16. This is typical mentality of the businessmen from the Indian subcontinent. Let somebody do all the investment, research and invent something. Let us take dealership and dump it on the gullible 300 million middleclass. TATA has been conned.

  17. Dear Shekhar & All,
    The TATAs are pretty shrewd and many advantages of their strategies are revealed much later than expected. I am pretty optimistic from TATA’s viewpoint and sure they will make this story also a success. The Jag is an excellent brand to own under the TATA flagship, and it is definitely not done in !

  18. Let him acquire GM and Ford also.In the storm of life we struggle through myriads of stimuli of pressure, stress, and muti-problems that seek for a solution and answer. We are so suppressed by the routine of this every life style that most of us seem helpless. However, if we look closely to ancient techniques we shall discover the magnificent way to understand and realize the ones around us and mostly ourselves. If only we could stop for a moment and allow this to happen. May all beings be happy (Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu)

  19. yes i always love TATA and felt proud that jaguar and landrover are totaly taken over by TATA.There are much speculation over the acqusitoin, but we should know that the primary thought was to buy the LANDROVER only as it would have been very much helpfull towards our military services but FORD did a little trick as making landrover and jaguar a single package otherwise not, because Jagaur is not doing good. I totaly appreciat Mr. TATA being a risk taker and have enough confidence on tata’s thoguhtful decession.
    good luck TATA……..

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