Friday, 4 April 2008

Is it time to say TATA to "the end of the British motor industry"?

As those of you who keep up with motoring news are probably aware, Tata Motors, creators of the Nano I referred to in an earlier blog, have bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford. This sale includes the Rover nameplate, and also those of Daimler and Lanchester. With such an armoury, I wouldn't leave two names languishing in the history books, and one more so under-promoted and seemingly undervalued it may as well not exist. I would create a full range of Western cars with the names at my disposal.

My plans are simple. Replace the X-Type with a new Rover, strengthen the Daimler brand, and introduce a large, green, limousine to act as a latter day Daimler DS420 under the Lanchester moniker.

The Rover first. I would replace the X Type with a rear wheel drive car of similar size, but a hatchback. This will be available with the 2.5 and 3.0 V6 petrol engines, and will use the 3.5 version of the Jaguar V8 that powers the XJ. I plan on calling this the Rover 2500, the Rover 3000, and the Rover 3500. These will be available in standard, S, and SE trim. A performance model will be available to rival BMW's M3, with the next-gen Jaguar 5.0 V8, and under the name of Rover 5000R. For fleet buyers, and Oli South, both a 2.2 and a 2.7 diseasal option will be available, lifted from the X and XF respectively.

The next model in my range would be Jaguar's excellent XF. This would remain as it is, no changes.

Then would be the XJ. I understand plans are afoot to make the next XJ into a modern interpretation of the old Mk X, far wilder than the XF, and indeed touted as the most advanced looking Jag since the XK120, some 60 years ago. I'm dubious as to whether or not this is a good thing, but as development is underway I am powerless to change this in the foreseeable future.

So we move to Daimler. I would keep the existing Daimler models in production until I had a replacement ready. This replacement would be a classically designed saloon, evolving from the current Daimlers as the XJ range has over the last 40 years. This will be, I understand, a niche model, but it will help retain people who feel alienated by Jaguar's new direction. It would be available as a saloon and as a large coupe in the mould of Mercedes' CL.

The Jaguar XK range is fine, no need to mess there.

Land Rover: I would introduce a V8 Defender. Besides that, the Freelander would be made front wheel drive, with 4wd as an option. This would attract fleet buyers and school run mums, tempted by cheaper fuel bills, and would also be considered greener and thus be placed in a lower tax band. Discovery and Range Rover can stay, however I see no point in the footballer's favourite, the RR Sport. So it would be axed.

And finally the Lanchester. This would be a car to rival the Bentley Arnage and Rolls Royce Phantom, powered by both a 4.2 litre V8 and an electric motor, used in conjunction to create a hybrid. Provision would also be made for an LPG tank, to further boost the car's green credentials in comparison to it's rivals.

I know, I'm wittering on about "green" this, and "hybrid" that, and as many of you know I couldn't give a damn about the environment. But green sells cars these days, so it has to be taken into account. And I know, I've left the most affordable and popular sectors of the market out of my plans, but there is method in my madness. When funds allow Tata to buy another name from our glorious past, be it from the defunct Rootes empire owned by PSA, or from NAC-MG's mighty stable, the motoring press would all be saying that the smaller cars that will wear this new badge were from the same company as the Rover range, or the Jaguar XF. And this association would help sales.

The cars would need to be good to even get the smallest look-in, but the team at Jaguar and Land Rover have proven themselves. And Tata's bean-counters have shown with the Tata Nano that it is possible to build a cheap car, so the cars can undercut their rivals to begin with if need be.

You know, I do believe I'm onto something here. I think that given good circumstances, this could work, work well, and prove to the world that Britain can do decent cars once more*.

*I know, they're owned by Indians, but the JLR factories, where these cars would be made, are in the UK. And the workforce are from the UK. And, let us not forget, India is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and a former British colony.

No comments:

Post a Comment