Home >Industry >Manufacturing >Jaguar-Land Rover starts building $1.75 bn China plant

Shanghai: Tata Motors Ltd’s Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) unit and Chery Automobile Co. will invest 10.9 billion yuan ($1.75 billion) to build a manufacturing plant in eastern China and create a new brand to cater to the nation’s consumers.

The 50:50 venture will also set up a research and development centre and construct an engine plant as part of the investment, according to a statement by Jaguar Land Rover. The company didn’t say in its release which models will be built at the new factory, targeted for completion in 2014.

“China is now our biggest market," Ralf Speth, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said at a press briefing on Sunday after the groundbreaking ceremony for the factory in Changshu, Jiangsu province. The Chinese economy has grown at a phenomenal rate in recent years and by any western standard, and I’m convinced that it is set to continue to grow at an astounding rate into the future.

Jaguar Land Rover joins Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in locating production in the world’s biggest vehicle market. The government requires overseas automakers to work with local companies to produce domestically and avoid the nation’s 25% import duty.

“Both parties need each other," Bill Russo, president of Synergistic Ltd, said by phone from Beijing. “JLR needs to be localized because, quite frankly, their competition is localizing. It gives Chery an opportunity to really upgrade its capabilities in a time when it really needs that."

Expansion plan

Profit at Jaguar Land Rover rose 77% in the second quarter to £305 million ($487 million). Surging China sales of Land Rover vehicles led by the Evoque have helped Speth offset slowing demand in Europe. The Gaydon, England-based unit said in May it will spend £2 billion this year to expand under a plan to introduce 40 new or upgraded models in the next five years.

Jaguar Land Rover, which showed its first two-seat sports car in almost four decades at the Paris Motor Show in September, “is targeting as much as 20% of the full-size sports car market", Steven de Ploey, the marketing head for Jaguar, said on 27 September. The company will also begin deliveries next year of the new Range Rover SUV.

Jaguar Land Rover sold 25,176 vehicles in October, a 10% increase from a year earlier, driven by demand for the Evoque and Range Rover Sport. Combined sales in the first 10 months rose 35% to 294,291 vehicles.

At Sunday’s event in Changshu, Chery Auto chairman Yin Tongyue told reporters that it is not the right time for an initial public offering for the closely held company. Bloomberg

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