Mumbai: Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, is in talks with a Chinese automaker to establish a manufacturing and sales joint venture in China, a spokesman for the Indian firm said on Monday.
A joint venture could boost the Jaguar and Land Rover brands in China, now the world’s biggest auto market after surpassing the United States last year.
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata said in August the automaker was planning to widen its offering in premium Jaguar cars and step up its network in China, which has emerged as the third-largest market for its Land Rover vehicles.
Tata has said it expects to boost sales in China to about 20,000 Land Rovers and 5,000 Jaguars in fiscal 2011 and has also said it would start assembling cars in the country.
Earlier on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal quoted Tata Motors’ chief executive Carl-Peter Forster as saying Jaguar Land Rover wanted to find a partner in China “as soon as possible” to manufacture and market vehicles.
“We’re not as strong as we should be (in many markets), most notably in China,” Forster told the paper at an industry forum in Shanghai.
Tata Motors, a part of the conglomerate Tata Group, bought the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co for $2.3 billion in 2008.
After struggling with the acquisition for more than a year due to debt taken on for the deal and a slump in demand that hit the luxury segment hard, Tata has now been able to turn things around.
The company swept past forecasts with a fourth straight profit in the first fiscal quarter of 2010, driven by demand for luxury vehicles such as Jaguar’s X-series and Land Rover’s Range Rovers.
Jaguar Land Rover sales rose 16% in September to 19,528 units, Tata Motors said earlier this month.
Tata Motors is the country’s leading maker of trucks and buses with about two-thirds of the market. Its also makes vehicles ranging from the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, to sport utility vehicles such as the Safari.