Tata rules out sale of JLR but looks for partners

by Lawrence Allan, Autocar UK 17 Oct 2019


Tata has gone on the record to rule out rumours it would put Jaguar Land Rover up for sale, but has admitted it will consider partnerships to reduce costs.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons Ltd, the holding company for the Indian salt-to-software conglomerate  that has Tata Motors under its wing, said “we’re not going to sell”. 

Despite admitting that the company will "always look for partnerships", Chandrasekaran said the firm has no desire for a deal where "we just sell a stake and have no say".

He acknowledged that the maker is going through "difficult times", and listed problems to be resolved including "getting the right portfolio, which [models] we need to invest in for electric vehicles, and how do we cut cost". 

Chandrasekaran also admitted that JLR’s Chinese sales “collapsed” earlier this year, with drops in sales that outstripped a general market slowdown, but said the market is starting to recover with significant growth for both brands over three consecutive months. “Auto is a core business for us. From revenue terms, auto is our largest company”. 

Despite this, Tata Motors has suffered substantial losses thanks to a slump in India’s car market, China’s economic slowdown, and Brexit uncertainty. JLR will close its UK factories for a week after 31st October, the proposed date for Britain to leave the European Union.

Tata Motors has owned Jaguar Land Rover since 2008, purchasing the firm from Ford, for a net consideration of US $2.3 billion (Rs 9,200 crore).

With the first-generation XF launched in that year, sales began to boom, particularly in regions such as China and Russia where it previously struggle to make an impact. 

However, JLR suffered as diesel sales slumped in the last two years, having invested heavily in development of oil-burning engines. The troubles snowballed, leading chief executive Ralf Speth to announce a £3.6bn annual loss for 2018/19. A wide-reaching cost-cutting programme was launched soon after. 

The latest sales figures paint a more positive outlook however. 128,953 cars were sold between June and September, a slight decrease on last year but a recovery on the first half of 2019. Sales in China are also up a substantial 24.3 per cent. The new Range Rover Evoque is attributed with much of the success.