GAYDON, England -- Jaguar Land Rover plans to nearly double the size of its dealership network in China within two years as part of its growth plans for the world's biggest auto market, Carl Peter Forster, CEO of the British automaker's owner Tata Motors, told Automotive News Europe.
Foster said Jaguar Land Rover forecasts 40,000 unit sales in China this year, up from 26 000 in 2010. The majority - 36,000 - of those sales will be Land Rovers.
"As our business shifts the centre of gravity eastwards we feel we are very well positioned," Forster said in an interview at JLR's headquarters here.
Jaguar Land Rover will increase the number of its China dealers to 100 within the next few years, Forster said. Currently, JLR has 59 dealers in China. Some 48 of these sell both brands.
Tata announced plans last year to open an assembly factory in China with a joint venture partner, but Forster said a manufacturing cooperation in China "is still two to three years away from becoming a reality."
The sales increase in China will play a role in Jaguar Land Rover's goal to achieve over 300 000 global sales by 2015 from 232 000 in 2010.
Another key market will be India, home of Tata Group.
"It is our firm intention to dominate the premium market with both our brands in India because we have the knowledge and the structure to do so in this region, which will be the next China," Forster said.
Jaguar Land Rover said it is investing 1.5 billion pounds ($2.45 billlion) on a product offensive in the next five years, launching 40 new vehicles, engines and transmissions.
The company plans to further invest in aluminum construction, refine its powertrains and heavily expand into hybrid models. "By 2020 at least one in every five of JLR´s vehicles will feature some level of hybridization," CEO Ralph Speth told ANE.