At a time when a good news story in the car industry is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity, how heartening and reassuring it is to hear that Tata’s first action since buying Jaguar and Land Rover is to inject £700 million into the brands and create 600 new jobs in the UK.
True, the money had already been earmarked by Ford before the sell-off and, yes, much of it will go towards dropping emissions levels so the marques don’t get clobbered by forthcoming legislation (had the companies stayed part of Ford their high CO2 emissions could have been offset against the comparatively low average emissions of its former parent’s products), but money is money and if it helps these two become leaner and more competitive then that is good work that needs doing now.
Even so, what is needed most is new product. This must be particularly galling for the marques concerned given that, between them, they have churned out a completely new XK, XJ, XF, Discovery, Range Rover Sport and Freelander all in the last five years, but such is the position in which they find themselves today. Jaguar needs to kill the X-type and build an F-type while Land-Rover has to decimate the kerbweights of the next Rangies and Discos while fast tracking the LRX into production.
Even so, both brands have four priceless assets: their names, an owner clearly prepared to put its money where its mouth is, lightweight manufacturing technology (an aluminium XJ limo weighs less than certain versions of the steel X-type), and staff with the talent and dedication to make it happen.
If I was one of them right now, I’d be quietly very excited about the next five years.