London, Sept. 10 (Reuters): Luxury car maker Jaguar said it would invest $2.4 billion in a new range of lightweight aluminium sports sedans and crossover SUVs aimed at the mass market, creating 1,700 jobs in a British economy showing signs of resilience.
The spending is part of a move to launch more affordable models from 2015 to emulate the success of lower cost luxury vehicles made by its sister company Land Rover, and will better position it to compete with its larger German rivals.
Jaguar, part of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) group owned by Tata Motors, said the investment could create a further 24,000 in supply chain jobs.
“The creation of 1,700 new jobs and £1.5 billion investment by Jaguar Land Rover is a great vote of confidence in the UK economy,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter.
British car sales rose 11 per cent in August, the eighteenth consecutive month of growth, in contrast to Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which all suffered sales declines.
Britain’s finance minister George Osborne said on Monday that the UK had turned the corner and that an accelerating economy vindicated his austerity programme.
JLR has roared to health in the four years since Tata Motors bought the group from Ford for $2.3 billion.
It has escaped the cycle of plant shutdowns and falling production at many European auto makers by tapping into growing demand for luxury cars in emerging markets.
Tata Motors shares surged about 10 per cent to a record high today on both the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange. It climbed 9.88 per cent to close the day at Rs 349.20 on the BSE.
Jaguar Land Rover also said August sales rose 28 per cent from a year earlier to 27,852 vehicles.
Car makers around the world are expanding into so-called premium “crossover” vehicles, seeking to tap demand for models that combine the functionality of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with the comfort and performance of luxury cars.
Nearly one in every four premium vehicles sold last year in Europe was a crossover or SUV, and the category continues to grow, despite concerns about size and fuel consumption, according to UK-based consultancy LMC Automotive.