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The inspiration behind Jaguar Land Rover's rejuvenation

By raccars Published

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Eight years after Tata bought Jaguar Land Rover, why is the future now so bright at JLR?

Jaguar and Land Rover are intensely British iconic motoring brands, but the current success of both is thanks to their Indian parent company, Tata. In 2008 Jaguar and Land Rover were in crisis. The Tata Group, a huge Indian conglomerate with interests including steel, tea and hotels, purchased both and saved them from bankruptcy.

Dr Ralf Speth

Much of the credit for the transformation must go to the man Tata hired to run JLR, former BMW exec Dr Ralf Speth. Upon his arrival at JLR, Dr Speth was faced with a Herculean task and chose bravely to tackle it at full power. Instead of nipping and tucking, JLR was completely overhauled from the top to the bottom. In turn, Dr Speth credited the then chairman of Tata, Ratan Tata, with the generosity of spirit and funds to allow him free rein - not that Speth has been profligate. His tenure has been marked by cost cutting programmes to make the company as efficient as possible.

Under Speth's watch, Tata's investment in JLR has been fully recouped and the brand is now not only profitable but posting record sales and expanding dramatically. In the last half a decade, JLR has taken on 20,000 new employees, almost doubling its workforce, and is the biggest engineering graduate employer in the UK. Sales volumes are also double what they were five years ago, and JLR is working upon doubling up again by 2020. Speth is not worried that expansion could dilute the JLR brand image, claiming that JLR's growth plans are driven by an urge to create and innovate rather than the bottom line.

Jaguar Land Rover's UK facilities

In the UK there are JLR factories in Halewood in Merseyside, Wolverhampton, Castle Bromwich and Solihull in the West Midlands, plus design and engineering plants in Gaydon, Warwickshire and Whitley, outside Coventry. JLR has invested huge sums into its British facilities and into research into new automotive technologies such as autonomous driving.

JLR's dedicated and highly skilled British workforce is a key part of its recent success and the company is committed to helping to train up a new generation of British engineers. The company has educational programmes for 8,900 young people and welcomes 300,000 school pupils into its facilities every year to engage them with automotive technology. The company also has plans to open a National Automotive Innovative Centre, essentially an industry educational facility.

JLR also recently announced that it would be opening a new plant in Slovenia and would be expanding the scope of its Austrian facility, not an entirely popular move among those who value the firm's British heritage.

New model releases

The huge amount of money put into JLR has been very visible lately, with an array of high quality new product releases. At all the major motoring shows the JLR stands are some of the busiest and most popular, with upcoming models the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and the Jaguar F-Pace SUV some of the most eagerly awaited new cars of 2016.

Also on the roster for this year is an extraordinary new Jaguar F-Type SVR, a 200mph halo model set to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, while the Range Rover is due for an update by the end of 2016.

JLR's extraordinary upward trajectory is great news not only for the industry and the car buying public, but also for the UK as a whole, flying the flag for recovery in the retail and manufacturing sectors as the country makes its way out of recession.

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