Taking a new turn
London, Sept. 7: Jaguar Land Rover launched its most expensive and technologically advanced Range Rover on Thursday saying that the £370 million spent on developing the car would underpin the jobs of its 20,000 employees.
The new model, to be built in Solihull, central England, will be the big beast of the British manufacturer’s range and also breaks new ground for the UK’s biggest automotive group. A 2013 version will be an electric-diesel hybrid, a first for the group using what is set to be a defining engine technology of the decade.
Launching the fourth generation of the Range Rover, Ralf Speth, the company’s German chief executive, sought to allay fears that its opening of production plants at Pune, in India, and in Shanghai and potentially in Saudi Arabia would cannibalise British jobs.
“These plants will build for local markets less complex products like the (Land Rover) Freelander,” Speth said.
“The top-end products will not (go abroad) because of their complexity. We are differentiated by the fact that we are designed, engineered and built in Britain. That quintessential Britishness is a strong message.”
The new Range Rover, built with an expensive aluminium superstructure, will retail at between £72,000 and £120,000.
The facilities to build the aluminium monocoque and panels and a production line in Solihull have cost £380 million as part of a three-year overhaul of the Range Rover, which Speth put at £1 billion.
The show of faith in Solihull comes two years after there were real fears that the plant would be merged with the Jaguar factory across the West Midlands at Castle Bromwich. It also follows the remarkable turnaround in Jaguar Land Rover fortunes since Ford offloaded the car maker to Indian conglomerate the Tatas in 2008.
Within three years, the Tatas took the British auto group from break even to £1 billion of profits.
The Range Rover revival was kickstarted with the launch of the Evoque, the baby Range Rover which became the fastest selling vehicle in the stable’s history within a matter of months.