The Tata Takeover

June 19th, 2009 by

ratannanoWho is Mr. Tata? What is Tata Motors? They’re the people who make the cheap car, right? As I sat down to right this blog, I began to wonder how much of an impact this gentleman, Ratan Tata, has made upon my life as a Land Rover Palm Beach employee.

The only knowledge I had of Mr. Tata prior to writing this article was the information from our weekly management meetings and the articles I could find online. It was just enough information to start to get to know the guy. I knew he staged the biggest foreign takeover in Britain when a division of his company, Tata Steel bought Britain based Corus, one of the world’s largest steelmakers. He also purchased another English business named Tetley Tea, sound familiar? Tata Sons, with it’s 27 independent companies has interests in chemicals, communications and hotels as well. Mr. Tata has a big thing for British automobiles so he bought a car company he always liked simply because he wanted to. I’m a bit jealous, I admit it.

Since Tata Motors has purchased Land Rover from Ford Motor Company, things are starting to improve. The timing of the acquisition turned out to be inopportune for Tata and he admits if he had waited until after the market crashed he could have bought us for less. I suppose no one could have really seen that one coming.Yet despite the crash, Land Rover is doing well. Perhaps because of Tata.

Tata Motors has promised funding for seven new vehicles in five years for both Land Rover and and Jaguar. Would we have had the same promise from Ford? We’ve already seen the innovation in fuel economy and technology with the LRX concept; a luxury turbo-diesel hybrid, with off-road capability. The concept will feature a new Terrain Response system. The new system is an off-road response system that features an economy setting. This new technology is not just for a far off concept vehicle, it’s already in sight with the the 2010 Range Rover Sport model.

Tata Motors has been smart in shedding the fat to stay afloat but they have also kept a strong workforce and are putting the money where it matters; into research and development. I have seen the confidence in action, people are ordering the 2010 models without hesitation. Some may have made jokes about Tata Motors, but I still have a job. That speaks volumes to me in such an unsure time.

 

The marriage between Tata Motors and Land Rover Jaguar Group may seem like an odd pairing. The Tata Nano hit the market with some jeers. At first the correlation between Land Rover Jaguar Group and a $2,500 automobile was a bit uncomfortable. But somebody went and built a fuel efficient car for only $2,500! Maybe it’s not what a lot of other companies wanted to hear but it’s also not a bad solution for many people I know. Aside from the impact on India, I am sure this vehicle would greatly improve the lives of many people worldwide. Lets’ face it though, we’re American, if this vehicle hit the states we would make it into the $5,000 car because the government would add it’s necessary mandates and we would have to add our toys to play with while driving. But would you buy a $104,000 luxury vehicle from the guy who invented the $2,500 car? Mr. Tata has backed the correct answer to this question with product and solutions; stay true to Land Rover heritage and look towards innovation.
Ratan signsI feel as though Tata Motors believes and understands that Land Rover is an iconic brand with worldwide appeal, growth prospects and plans to retain a distinctive identity. Tata kept us firmly planted in England where we began our journey to excellence over 60 years ago. We’re Land Rover, 75% of our vehicles are still on the road. For Rover people, the SUV is their toy, not the easily outdated new gimmick feature of the next big auto show. Land Rovers are attractive, timeless and classic. Yet with Tata Motors at the helm, the 2010 models will have computer screens for dashboards. It’s the Jetsons without the flying cars! I’m guessing that this is only the beginning of where Tata Motors will take us.

Land Rover made history with JD Powers this year, finally. Land Rover Palm Beach’s service department is also number one in the country right now. Our dealership continues to win the Pinnacle Award, the highest accolade for a Land Rover store. Yes, I will be bold in these trying times and remain positive. Things are looking up. Nobody tells me they’ve decided to buy a Hummer anymore.

So why would anyone listen to me? I have not worked in the auto industry for very long. However, I have had a long relationship with Land Rover. My father started working for Land Rover North America over 22 years ago. He was there on day one. Before Land Rover he worked for Rolls Royce. I’ve been in the industry for 3 years now, but have lived in it for all of my 34 years. I may not be able to tell you what kind of chassis was used in a 1997 Land Rover Discovery without looking it up, but I can tell you what happens when the Germans buy the English, sell them to the Americans and end up owned by the Indians. My opinion on Land Rover is based on life experience and what I have seen. While worldwide economic reports point to cloudy skies, I see a lot of exciting things on the horizon for Land Rover.