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Jaguar & Land Rover drives into Indian market

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Legendary British automotive brands Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) officially hit Indian shores, home to owner Tata Motors, today.

The Indian launch follows sliding global demand for the luxury brands thanks to the economic meltdown.

Both brands will launch three models each from an exclusive company-owned showroom in Worli, Mumbai. A senior Land Rover executive said the company has started bookings.

Jaguar will introduce the XF, XFR and the XKR sedans while Land Rover will start business with Discovery 3, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover sport utility vehicles. Being fully-imported models, all six cars carry a hefty price tag – starting at Rs 63 lakh at the lower end and going up to Rs 92 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai).

Ratan N Tata, chairman, Tata Motors said: "The launch of Jaguar and Land Rover is memorable in the context of the history and heritage of Tata Motors. This is a company that belongs to us and we are proud of it."

The models will sell from just this one outlet for now and more will be added as demand picks up.

Thane-based Navnit Motors who have been importing Land Rovers since the past 12 years will now sell Jaguars also through a new outlet in Bandra, Mumbai. The Thane outlet, which sells the entire range of Land Rovers with an average sales of 8-10 units every month, will now operate as a service and spares outlet.

Given the uncertainty clouding the Indian automotive market the company refused to provide any guidance on how many cars it will sell.

David Smith, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover said: "We believe the Indian market holds significant growth potential in the long term. Although the market in India is not very huge, we have seen excellent growth in Russia and China and we are keen to add India to that list."

Meanwhile, on the issue to a pending guarantee from the UK government for the loan of about Rs 2,700 crore from the European Investment Bank (EIB), Tata said, "We are in talks with the UK government and we are hoping that we will find a solution so that we see ourselves out of this downturn. It is extremely important to find a solution. We are also working out on whether the UK government will have any representative for JLR that would commensurate their guarantee approval."

Tata Motors is also planning to leverage the technological expertise of JLR for its own range of vehicles through sharing of intellectual property rights (IPR) as the company considers that the two brands together have “tremendous capabilities”.

The company has strictly kept the two brands as separate products from the Tata Motors stable to prevent brand dilution. It will also refrain from tapping into the dealer infrastructure set-up of JLR of the United States.

Tata added, "We never tried to merge JLR with Tata Motors, but over time the two brands will have some resemblance including dealing with customers, spares, commonalised vendors and customer relations. However there are no plans to leverage the US foothold of JLR for the Tata Motors brands."

Tata Motors has arranged finance from Tata Capital and is also holding talks with ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank for the two elite brands.