Jaguar Land Rover ironically raises it British-icon status as it moves into China, while Germany’s troubled ThyssenKrupp sacks half its board.
In a globalised business world, nothing is necessarily what it seems. Two icons of British motor manufacturing are looking ahead to further success on the back of major overseas investment and support from foreign owners or part-owners.
An Italian private equity firm with a record for reviving ailing brands, Investindustrial, has beaten off the Indian manufacturing group Mahindra & Mahindra to take a 37.5 per cent stake in Aston Martin. Another giant of Midlands manufacturing, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) - a brand forged by its Indian owner, Tata Motors - has announced a joint venture partnership with China’s Chery Automobile to produce vehicles in that country for the first time.
Prime Minister David Cameron sees the significance of this. On a recent visit to the company’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands, he declared: “[JLR’s] success, particularly in fast-growing markets like China and India, shows that UK manufacturing can compete and thrive on the global stage.”
JLR can boast a rise of more than a third in the number of Jaguars and Land Rovers sold in the first 10 months of 2012 (294,291), compared with the same period last year.
In China, the increase in units sold so far this year is a staggering 80+ per cent - hence JLR’s focus. The joint venture company will build a plant near Shanghai that will include an engine-production facility and an R&D centre. The first new models solely for the Chinese market will roll off production lines in 2015.
Closer to home, JLR recently invested in a “state-of-art” aluminium body shop at Solihull for the new Range Rover, which it bills as “the world’s first SUV to feature an advanced all-aluminium body structure”.
Despite these investments, 2012-13 looks like being a strong year for JLR. Its latest published results, for the second quarter to the end of September 2012, show a doubling of pre-tax profits against 2011-12 - rising to £431m. As JLR’s revenues for the second and third quarters of 2011-12 rose consecutively on the first two quarters, we can expect JLR to continue to increase vehicle sales and revenues during the second half of the fiscal year to the end of March 2013.