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Auto blogSat, 24 Nov 2012 14:02:00 EST
While the European auto market for Jaguar and Land Rover is waning, Chinese car buyers can't get enough of the British marques. To meet that demand, Tata Motors, parent company of Jag and Land Rover, is partnering with Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co.
The two announced plans to invest $1.75 billion to build a new plant and create a new, China-focused brand. 2014 is the target for completion of the factory. Jaguars and Land Rovers built at the facility will be the first ever produced outside the UK according to the Associated Press. The JV will be called Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company Ltd.
The announcement comes less than a month after JLR announced it would open a design studio in China. It's not clear from the reports whether the two announcements are part of the same JV or two separate plans.
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.