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Smooth ride, rough words
- Tatas tipped to win Jaguar

Mumbai, Dec. 20: The race to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover is nearing the finish line with Ford Motor Company likely to name the winner tomorrow.

The iconic brands look set to go to the Tatas, though there is not much differences in the prices quoted by the three bidders — the Mahindras, One Equity Partners of the US and Tata Motors.

British media reports said Ford may announce the new owner tomorrow, but some others say the winner will be known only in early January.

Ford officials could not be reached for comments. Tata Motors officials declined to give their views.

A report in The Birmingham Post said Ford would name the Tatas as the preferred bidder for the two brands on Friday.

There is one meeting to go before the final decision and barring any last-minute hitches, which is unlikely, the announcement will be made tomorrow, the paper said.

The Times also said Tata Motors was in the pole position to pick up the brands.

Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant is in London now, and there are speculations that his visit was to tie up final details.

Though the three bids are in the region of $2 billion, what could go in favour of the Tatas is the support of the workers’ union at Jaguar and Land Rover.

Food, too, is reportedly keen on a buyer who is directly involved in manufacturing. The Mahindras are more into utility vehicles, while One Equity is a private equity fund having former Ford CEO Jack Nasser as a partner.

Small car

In an interview to The Times, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata admitted to the image disparity Tata Motors would face in owning such prestigious brands as the Jaguar and the Land Rover as well as producing the world’s cheapest car: the “one lakh car” that it will launch next year.

“How a company manages products in different sectors is the key,” Tata said. “Toyota created Lexus, Nissan has Infiniti. No one is saying ‘how can BMW handle the Mini?’ but they’ve made a huge success of it. So why is it impossible?”

Tata Motors is set to unveil the small car at the Delhi Auto Expo on January 10, shooing off doubters who said a car at such low cost was impossible.

“It’s amusing and ironic because nearly everyone said it could not be done,” Tata said.

“Some have been derogatory, some dismissive, yet all are entering this area themselves. It vindicates what we set out to do.”

He said the small car would be one of the greenest vehicles around. “There are eight million two-wheelers put on the road every year which pollute more and are more dangerous,” he said.

“If you look at the total population, the incremental emissions will be minuscule. Why are we singled out?”

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