The move is a key part of a global sales strategy being developed by the British manufacturer in which it seeks to significantly raise its presence in China, the world’s largest car market.
The proposed new brand – said to be conceived along similar lines to Lynk&Co, the fledgling brand launched by rival Volvo and its Chinese parent company Geely in 2016 – is thought to be positioned in the mid-class, with a heavy emphasis on the electrification of drivetrains and in-car connectivity, according to media reports out of China.
While details of JLR and Chery’s reported plans for a new sub-brand remain under wraps, Chinese automotive industry experts suggest that recent management changes at Chery could be seen as laying the foundation for a comprehensive shift in the joint venture operations between the two companies, which commenced in 2012.
Suspicions as to the plan were raised in the past by JLR's trademarking of the Rover name in numerous countries, as well as trademarking the Rover 55 name – the 55 being a stillborn saloon from the now-dead brand. Given saloons’ popularity in China, this would be a logical place to start for a revived Rover brand.
An official at JLR contacted by Autocar wouldn’t be drawn on the reports that the company is actively seeking to establish a new brand with Chery. However, he did point out that, after a slow start to its joint venture agreement, JLR currently produces four models in China: the Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery, Jaguar XEL and Jaguar XFL. Additionally, plans have been announced for Chinese production of the Jaguar E-Pace.
A JLR spokesman said: "Jaguar Land Rover owns the Rover trademark so regularly files trademark updates to protect the name, as is good practice. There is no foundation to the speculation that we are reviving the brand." The spokesman clarified that no new brand, under any name, is planned.