Jaguar Land Rover Group is mulling opening an assembly plant in North America as it bids to keep up with growing demand for luxury vehicles around the world. The possible expansion was confirmed by Tata Motors Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata to the South Carolina Automotive Summit. He said that the plant’s final location will be something that JLR will have to decide.
His comments are linked closely to anonymously sourced media reports early February, which said that officials from the state of Georgia in the United Staets were seeking to land a JLR factory. The Birmingham Post recently reported, citing unnamed company sources, that Austria and Turkey were being explored, not the US.
Tata remarked that he is not part of the decision-making process on the site selection as he already retired as chairman of the Tata group in late 2012. He, however, still oversees Tata’s philanthropic activities, which has seats on the company’s corporate board. JLR is among the last premium brands that decided lately to invest in assembly plants in North America.
BMW opened a plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1994, and Mercedes-Benz commenced operations at its Vance, Alabama site in 1997. Lexus, on the other hand, started production of SUVs in Ontario in 2003. Likewise, Acura and Infiniti both build key models in the US.
On the other hand, Mexico has become an attractive base for production in North America, having attracted two significant premium brand projects in the past two years.
German luxury carmaker Audi is currently a $1.3-billion site in Puebla, Mexico, for Q5 crossover vehicles output while a partnership between Nissan Motor Corp. and Daimler AG will pave way for a $1.4-billion site in Aguascalientes, Mexico that will build 150,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles annually and 150,000 Infiniti vehicles a year starting in 2017.
As for Jaguar Land Rover, its first expansion outside the United Kingdom came last year, when it opened a new plant in China in partnership with Chery Automobile.