Land Rover model to be assembled in India: report

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Tata Motors is to assemble its lowest-price Land Rover model in India to make it more affordable in an increasingly competitive South Asian market, the Times of India newspaper said on Thursday.

The daily quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Freelander 2 would be put together at Tata Motors' plant at Pimpri, near the western city of Pune, by the end of this year.

Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover from ailing US carmaker Ford in 2008, adding to a small, but increasingly crowded luxury car market that includes Italy's Porsche, Germany's BMW and Audi.

The Freelander 2, which is currently produced at Halewood, in northwest England, costs from 3.3 million rupees (71,000 dollars) outside Mumbai and from 3.45 million rupees in India's financial capital, which has higher taxes.

The newspaper said local assembly of the compact all-terrain vehicle would help slash import duties, leading to a price cut of about 50 percent.

Asked about the report, a Tata Motors spokesman told AFP: "We do not have any information to share on this."

Tata Motors launched Land Rover and its fellow luxury marque Jaguar in India to great fanfare in June 2009 but said at the time that it had no immediate plans to switch production from British plants.

Chief executive Ratan Tata said any decision to assemble either brand in India "will depend on the business case at that time".

"I don't think we have any plans for the present moment to do so."

The company said it had sold 242 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles from its Mumbai showroom since the outlet opened in June last year up to the end of March this year.

© 2010 AFP

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