Saturday, November 24, 2007

Selling Jaguar and Land Rover to the Indians?

A meeting of 60 shop stewards at Jaguar and Land Rover moved to support a buy out (buy up?) by India's Tata Motors Ltd. Jag and Land Rover still employ 16000 workers in Merrie Old England. The union continues to oppose a sale at all (they want to continue as part of Ford) but if they have to be sold, they like Tata better than the other possibilities. They see Tata as "the only company among the final bidders with enough money, clout, and experience in our industry" to successfully manage the brands, according to a labor official who attended the meeting.
Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.75 billion in 2000. I wonder what Ford was thinking when they bought the British brands in the first place. I understand that after paying $2.5 billion for Jag, the proceeded to pour in a lot more money to improve the product. Jag has always had a sexy product, but a product with a well earned reputation for unreliability. I owned one once. For the last 40 years the unreliability rep has been so strong as to overwhelm the good styling, handling, and interior trim level. Eighteen years of Ford improvements hasn't been able to turn that around. You have to wonder if the time and money put into Jaguar would have been better spent on Lincoln, Thunderbird, Cougar and Mustang.

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