MUMBAI (Reuters) - Tata Motors Ltd TAMO.BO, India's largest vehicles maker, on Sunday announced the launch in India of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, the marquee brands it bought from Ford Motors F.N last year.
Saying it was a momentous occasion for the company, chairman Ratan Tata said, “This is in keeping with our desire to extend the penetration of the brands in India.”
The automobile firm, which controls about 60 percent of the world’s fifth-biggest truck and bus market, will soon also be rolling out the Nano, billed as the world’s cheapest car.
Jaguar is launching the XF amd XK range of luxury coupes and convertibles in India starting at a price tag of 6.3 million rupees ($130,977) and going up to 9 million rupees.
Land Rover will initially be launching three vehicles including the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery 3, with prices also starting at 6.3 million rupees but going beyond 9 million.
“The luxury car market in India is very small, but there is a huge opportunity there. It is growing fast and we expect it to grow fast over the next 5 to 10 years,” said David Smith, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover.
“India is an important part of our plans for the future,” said Mike Driscoll, managing director of Jaguar.
The luxury car segment in India is less than 1 percent of the total car market there.
On Friday Tata Motors posted its first loss in eight years at $520 million for the year to March 2009, with its Jaguar Land Rover unit reporting a loss of 306 million pounds ($504 million) in the 10 months of the fiscal year to March 2009, as a brutal global recession crippled car sales.
On the issue of loan guarantees for JLR, Tata said, “we are in discussions with the U.K. government on the loan guarantees and hopefully we will find a solution for it ... and our funding plan for JLR will progress.”
The company is seeking guarantees for the 340 million pounds loan sanctioned by the European Investment Bank and other loans from U.K.-based commercial banks. It is seeking these funds to develop new and more fuel efficient cars for improving its competitive position.
“Sustaining the downturn is important for us ... and finding a solution (for the loan guarantees) is extremely important to us,” Tata said.
He also said that if there was a large financial package from the U.K. government for Jaguar and Land Rover then, “there should be commensurate level of representation from them,” which had to be negotiated and worked out.
Editing by Jerry Norton
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