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Q+A with Carl-Peter Forster; new models planned, plus an increase in production

Autocar's Steve Cropley today caught up with new Tata Motors Group boss Carl-Peter Forster. He revealed several new models, as well as plans for expansion.

How many cars must Jaguar Land Rover build to be profitable?

There is no special number. It depends how well you play the component sharing game, and how good you are at price positioning. Our XJ will make good money at 15,000 to 18,000 units annually. We want to expand, of course, but not at the expense of profitability.

Where do you see the best expansion potential?

We must exploit the premium market better. Our segment and regional market shares are still small. We don’t have a full line-up; you might see space between the Range Rover Sport and the smaller Range Rover that we’ll launch next year. We don’t yet have all the engines we need. We’re also working on a Jaguar roadster, and thinking about another small Jaguar. There are many opportunities.

Are you deliberately moving the Range Rover and Land Rover brands further apart?

We believe these two share much DNA, but they have somewhat different characters. Range Rovers are luxurious and can command a premium; Land Rovers have a more practical toughness about them. They’ll always be related, but the two brands can go in slightly different directions.

Why can’t Land Rover quality match Jaguar’s?

We don’t believe there’s as great a difference as some people say. Land Rover has made huge quality strides with recently. But there is an issue, and it’s very high on our list of priorities to fix. You’ve talked of “modern British” design? What do you mean? You see it everywhere: in architecture, in fashion, in restored buildings, in the British mix of modern and traditional. It sometimes seems to me you Brits don’t realise the asset you have. But believe me, it is unique and our products have it.

Are you trying to change the culture at Jaguar Land Rover?

You’ll have to talk to others about that. We certainly think there’s a difference between being run by a giant American company and a entrepreneurial Indian approach, and I like the difference. There’s a rigour and an eagerness to get things done without delay.

Where will you buy four-cylinder engines in future?

We can keep buying from our current supplier [PSA] if necessary, but one idea for the medium term might be to set up a joint Tata/Jaguar/Land Rover initiative for modern four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines. Our people certainly have the expertise [to achieve that].

How do you view our new government, which talks of removing your capital allowances and discourages ministers from using their official Jaguars?

The government must make whatever decisions necessary to get the economy back on track. But we’re glad to hear that it saying manufacturing industry is back in favour, because we’re a big player in the UK. We spend £3bn annually on production, £1bn on R&D and we earn £6bn from exports. That’s big business.

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