Jaguar Land Rover may open India plant: report

5th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

British luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors, plans to open its first assembly plant in India by the end of May, a report said Tuesday.

The Freelander, Land Rover's sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) will be assembled at the factory in Pune city, in the western state of Maharashtra, a spokesman for the British-based brand told Dow Jones Newswires.

"We are still in talks with executives from Tata Motors...on an exact date" for opening the plant, the unnamed spokesman said. "But, end of May would seem realistic enough."

An AFP query drew no response from Tata Motors.

Sales of Jaguars and Land Rovers are on the rise, recovering after taking a battering in the global economic slowdown when Tata Motors bought the carmakers from Ford for $2.3 billion in 2008.

In the financial year ended March, Tata Motors sold 891 Jaguar Land Rover vehicles in India, a jump of 268 percent, compared to 242 units in the same period a year earlier.

For the quarter to December 2010 Jaguar Land Rover showed a profit of 275 million pounds ($439.6 million), up from 55 million pounds a year earlier as demand for cars improved across key markets.

India is witnessing a huge demand for cars, including premium brands, as disposable incomes rise among the country's rich.

Cars manufactured overseas and imported into India cost more than twice those made locally, as the government levies heavy taxes on them.

The Jaguar Land Rover plant in Pune will help Tata Motors lower costs to match rivals such as BMW, Audi and Daimler.

Tata Motors sells Jaguar XJ, XF and XK sedans in India, and the Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover SUVs from Land Rover, which are currently imported as completely built units and marketed through local Jaguar Land Rover showrooms.

The Pune plant, where some of India's leading car and bike makers have existing plants, will be Jaguar Land Rover's fifth globally, after Kenya, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

© 2011 AFP

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