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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.
It's hard to think back now, but the same man overseeing the design of the 2013 Ford Fusion also presided over a rather lackluster period in Ford design, highlighted by vehicles like the Five Hundred and Freestyle. With the redesigned Fusion receiving high praise, J Mays tells Automotive News that he feels vindicated from criticisms suggesting he's not a daring enough designer.
When Mays took over as lead of design in 1997, he admits to having quite an ego ("My head would barely fit through the door some days. I've long since gotten over myself") and the workload to match. With the Blue Oval's portfolio full of premium brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo at that point, along with the bread-and-butter Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, Mays certainly had quite the challenge.
It was in the mid-2000s that Mays took over just the premium brands, and took on the new title of Chief Creative Officer. At the time, Mays endured some criticism for looking backwards to retro styling, rather than setting a new standard for American car design - criticism that Mays says he is free from with the all-new Fusion.
With most recalls seemingly affecting mass-market vehicles, it'd be all too easy to assume, consciously or otherwise, that higher-end automobiles never face such issues. But the main reason we don't see the NHTSA recalling more luxury automobiles isn't because of their quality, we'd postulate: it's because of their relative scarcity.
Take Jaguar Land Rover, recalls of whose vehicles we only seem to have cause to report about once a year. So if you're figuring they're about due, here you go. The Indian-owned British auto group has just announced two recalls, both regarding suspension components: one affecting Jaguars and another concerning - you guessed it - Land Rovers.
First up we have a recall for 2013 to 2014 model year Jaguar XJ, XF and XK models - a whopping 297 of them - which have been found to have problematic toe links. Separation of the toe link from the rear sub-frame could result in impaired stability and control over the vehicle's direction, so JLR is calling them in to replace the nuts and washers on the rear toe links.