Jaguar Land Rover: China approves joint venture

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Jaguar Land Rover-Chery to Invest $1.75 Billion in China Plant

Jaguar Land Rover unit and Chery Automobile Co. will invest 10.9 billion yuan ($1.75 billion) to build a manufacturing plant in eastern China and create a new brand to cater to the nation’s consumers.

The 50:50 venture will also set up a research and development center and construct an engine plant as part of the investment, according to a statement by Jaguar Land Rover. The company didn’t say in its release which models will be built at the new factory, targeted for completion in 2014.

“China is now our biggest market,” Ralf Speth, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said at a press briefing yesterday after the groundbreaking ceremony for the factory in Changshu, Jiangsu province. “The Chinese economy has grown at a phenomenal rate in recent years and by any western standard, and I’m convinced that it is set to continue to grow at an astounding rate into the future.”

Jaguar Land Rover joins Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi, Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) in locating production in the world’s biggest vehicle market. The government requires overseas automakers to work with local companies to produce domestically and avoid the nation’s 25 percent import duty.

Jaguar Land Rover is to make vehicles in China for the first time after Beijing approved a £1bn joint venture.

The West Midlands-based luxury carmaker agreed a “milestone” deal with Chery Automobile and will build a plant near Shanghai, which is due to open in 2015.

JLR said any cars produced would be in addition to its existing output, and it had no intention of moving its manufacturing base out of Britain.

Sales of JLR models in China have risen by 80% so far this year.

The company, owned by India’s Tata Motors, began talks with Chery months ago, but had been awaiting approval.

A joint statement released by the Chinese and British companies said: “We are delighted to have reached this milestone, achieved thanks to the understanding and foresight of the Chinese authorities and we want to thank them for recognising the potential of our joint venture in the fast-growing Chinese market.

“Together, we will now begin working in close collaboration on our partnership plans to harness the capabilities of our respective companies, to produce relevant, advanced models for Chinese consumers.”

JLR has not said officially which model would be built at the factory, although the company has said in the past that is likely to be either the Land Rover Freelander or Evoque.

A research and development facility and engine production plant will also built as part of the venture, with the main manufacturing plant expected to be completed during 2014, with production starting the following year.

With China now a crucial market for JLR, building vehicles in the country means it can avoid import duties.

However, JLR says that being in China will enable it to build vehicles designed specifically for the Chinese market.