By Colin Bird on August 11, 2010
It’s been more than two years since Ford sold off its Land Rover and Jaguar unit to Indian conglomerate Tata Motors. So far, the new parent couldn’t be happier.
In fact, you could say Tata – which just posted a net profit in the latest quarter compared to a net loss a year earlier – owes a lot of its current success to these two relatively small luxury carmakers.
Jaguar and Land Rover sales are soaring high – up 18% in the U.S. – with production up 59% globally in the latest quarter.
Much of Jaguar’s and Land Rover’s current success has to do with new models either completely or partially developed by Ford Motor Co. Ford’s leadership laid the groundwork for the designs of the popular Jaguar XK, XF and XJ. The same person that designed many popular Lincoln concepts at Ford, including the Lincoln Continental and Navicross, was also responsible for Land Rover’s LRX Concept, which is now going on sale nearly unaltered as the Range Rover Evoque.
Not too long ago, in the era of expensive gas, some believed there was no future for the Jaguar brand and dwindling prospects for Land Rover. Jaguar saw a 50% drop in sales from 2005 to 2008, as models went unchanged just as brands like Audi and Infiniti were undergoing product revivals. Land Rover sales were actually increasing during that time until the energy crisis of 2008 when sales fell 40%.
Back in 2008, Ford wasn’t doing too well itself, and it decided to offload the brands to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion. Keep in mind that Ford bought Jaguar for about $2.3 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.96 billion in 2000. Without accounting for inflation, you can most certainly call that a fire sale.
The verdict is still out as to what a top-to-bottom-designed Jaguar or Land Rover under Tata’s leadership will look like. Most of the Land Rover lineup received refreshed interiors for 2009, and the new company will be responsible for the success or failure of the Evoque. As for Jaguar, Tata plans to expand the brand by possibly three models in the coming years, so we won’t have to wait too long to see what Tata leadership will bring in terms of new vehicles.