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Auto blogWed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 EST
Anyone who's a car fan knows that Jaguar and Land Rover cars and trucks all come from the UK. And while we don't doubt that will remain true for the most part, it won't be an absolute truth for long, as the British automaker has just opened its first factory overseas.
Its new plant in Changshu, China, is the result of a $1.8-billion joint venture between JLR and local automaker Chery. It covers some 4.3-million square feet and will, once at peak capacity, produce 130,000 units specifically for the Chinese market, where JLR sells over 100,000 vehicles each year to make it the company's single largest market worldwide.
Production at what's officially known as the Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company will start with the Evoque, of which one in five globally are currently sold in China. Production will eventually encompass three models. We already know that the Discovery Sport will be next, but the third model line has yet to be announced. JLR has confirmed, however, that the Changshu plant will produce unique models and derivatives specifically for the Chinese market, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a long-wheelbase version of the forthcoming XE or next-generation XF assembled there to satisfy local tastes.
Jaguar Land Rover has announced that a new division of the British manufacturer will be dedicated to "bespoke commissions," as well as heritage products and apparel. Oh, and the new Special Operations division will also be behind JLR's halo cars from now on.
It's that last one that is the most tantalizing, as the last real halo product to see production from Jaguar was the XJ220. The Range Rover, meanwhile, has always had its own kind of halo reputation, although the Land Rover brand itself has never really gotten into the game with a dedicated model.
According to JLR, the new halo models will focus on ultra-high performance and luxury with a limited run of vehicles. The bespoke models, meanwhile, will give the wealthiest customers full sway over how vehicles are outfitted, with unique paints, trims and other accessories. The new SpecOps division will be run by John Edwards.
Jaguar's long-rumored crossover won't be built on the same platform as the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, says the Australian site Car Advice. The future of the new CUV remains uncertain, but if Jaguar does dip its toes into the SUV/crossover pool, though, the new vehicle will likely be a car-based soft roader, lacking (or perhaps more appropriately, not needing) the off-road-engineered chops inherent in Land Rover's small CUV platform.
Jaguar product planner Steven De Ploey explained to Car Advice, "There's many groups around the world [platform sharing] - obviously Volkswagen Group is doing it all the time - but I think we have to be careful. He added, "Jaguar is something quite different... It's about capability, but very much on-road focused capability." That seems to gel with our suspicions that the XQ, as it's expected to be called, will share its platform with an upcoming small Jaguar sedan, the oft-rumored X-Type successor.
Still, we'd recommend taking any mention of a Jaguar crossover with a grain of salt. Based on many of the (quite compelling) statements made by De Ploey against a Jag crossover and previous statements made by Jag's design boss, Ian Callum, the case against a leaper-bearing crossover seems strong. If a high-rider were to arrive from Jaguar, though, the article insinuates that it'd be more in line with the BMW X6 or upcoming X4 - sort of a coupe-based crossover. Like we said, grain of salt. If a Jag crossover is going to arrive soon, the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show is the most likely locale for its debut. We'll find out in a few weeks.