In its bid to internationalise its business, British marquee automobile brands Jaguar and Land Rover are looking to top the fiercely competitive premium car market in India, currently dominated by the German troika of BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi.
JLR are a late entrant in the luxury car space in India, but ever since they were acquired by home grown Tata Motors in 2008, experts believe they could become a formidable force.
“Being owned by Tata Motors, it is almost a responsibility for us now to dominate the market in India and overtake our competitors,” said Adrian Hallmark, global brand director, Jaguar. “That is what we will seek to do as we want India to be our second home market (market leader) after the UK.”Its Indian aspirations are in fact a reflection of its global ambitions where JLR is playing catch up with the same German trio of rivals. It announced it will invest a staggering £7.5 billion (Rs 54,000 crore) over the next 5 years mainly for product development, R&D and new market development. The investment, the biggest in decades, will be met from the company’s own coffers, with no borrowing from the parent firm.
“We are in a catch up mode and we will do whatever it takes to get to the top,” said Ralf Speth, CEO, JLR. “There is a lot of buoyancy in our business and Tata Motors is backing us firmly to achieve our target.”
JLR will begin assembly operations in India late next month with the Freelander and also launch the Range Rover Evoque, the smallest and lightest Ranger, next year. Even then, it has an uphill task in the country.
In fiscal 2010-11, JLR sold 891 cars in India as compared to BMW’s 7,079, Mercedes' 6,670 and Audi's 3,982. Analysts say that though sales would grow as more dealerships open up, JLR’s product lineup is not in sync the Indian market, as the German car companies are luring customers with less expensive models.
“In many markets, we are not participating in significant segments, but we can by minor alterations,” Hallmark said. “There will be a new generation of (cheaper) cars that will help us expand our customer base.”
Like BMW has shown in the last 3 years, things can change dramatically here. JLR is hoping to follow suit.
(The writer’s travel and lodging were sponsored