MUMBAI -- Tata Motors Ltd. opened a Land Rover assembly unit at its factory in the city of Pune, India, on Friday in a push to supply luxury vehicles to emerging economies.
"We are placing an emphasis on growth markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China," Ralf Speth, head of Tata's Jaguar Land Rover division, said on Thursday at a press conference in Mumbai.
The Land Rover brand will initially assemble Freelander models in India, he said. The assembly line will allow Tata to hold back costs as India levies a 100 percent duty on imported cars while high-end competitors from abroad expand.
In the last two months, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. and Fiat S.p.A.'s Ferrari and Maserati brands have set up dealerships in the world's second-fastest growing major economy after China as rising wealth spurs demand for luxury vehicles.
Aston Martin opened its first Indian dealership in April and is targeting about 25 percent of its sales to come from Asia and the Middle East in the next five years, compared with 10 percent to 12 percent now.
Ferrari expects to sell as many as 100 vehicles in India by 2014, its Indian dealer said Thursday.
Tata paid $2.4 billion in June 2008 to buy the Jaguar car and Land Rover SUV brands from Ford Motor Co., and it combined them into a single division.
Tata Motors CEO Carl-Peter Forster, who said in May that investments in Jaguar Land Rover will total 5 billion pounds, said Thursday that Tata Motors is willing to consider setting up an Indian engine plant for the division.
Ford currently supplies engines to the unit. "With good growth volume, we will have to think about our future engine strategy," Forster said at the press conference.
26% delivery growth
Jaguar Land Rover's fiscal 2011 deliveries rose 26 percent to 243,621 cars and SUVs. Sales jumped 43 percent in China and Russia, with the Chinese market accounting for 29,600 vehicles, Nicola Rzeznik, a spokeswoman for the unit in Warwick, England, said in a May 25 e-mail.
"Tata Motors' main focus is on their international business," said Walter Rossini at Aletti Gestielle SGR S.p.A. in Milan. "They are doing very well, not just in traditional markets such as Europe and the U.S., but also in emerging markets like China."