At the beginning of Term 3, I went on a visit to the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull, UK. The visit was provided by Aston Business School as part of the International Operations module in Term 2. It was a pleasant morning at JLR’s industrial plant, where we were impressed of how clean and organised the factory is with a friendly and well-trained staff. In addition, how modern the company is with a high level of automation in the production of its cars.
Jaguar Land Rover is a company that brings together two much loved, highly prestigious British car brands. After Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford in 2008, it merged the two marques into a single company and its success has flourished, with memorable vehicles and innovative technologies that add to a long-lasting legacy.
The origins of Jaguar can be traced back to a company that began by making motorcycle sidecars in 1922. The Swallow Sidecar Company later started building automobiles and moved to Coventry, switching its name to Jaguar after the Second World War. It produced premium saloons and sports cars, including the legendary XK120.
Around this time, Rover started to develop a new all-terrain vehicle, inspired by the American Jeep. Lightweight and rustproof, the first Land Rover was clad in aluminium alloy, due to the post-war steel shortage, and cost £450. It introduced 4×4 capabilities to road cars and was soon adopted by the military as well.
Adding to Jaguar’s reputation was its motorsport success in the 1950s, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race twice with a C-type – in 1951 and again in 1953 – and then with a D-type in 1955, 1956 and 1957. In 1961, the company launched what became perhaps the most iconic sports cars of all time, the E-type. In 1968 it merged with BMC (British Motor Corporation), which later became part of British Leyland and included Rover.
With an increasing demand for recreational off-roaders, the Range Rover made its debut in 1970. So popular was the new car that British Leyland made Land Rover a standalone company in 1978. Very little about the first Range Rover was altered over the years – 1981 introduced a four-door, while a diesel arrived in 1986. As the Range Rover became seen as more upmarket, the Land Rover Discovery was launched in 1988 as a third model in the range.
After splitting from British Leyland, Jaguar became independent again in the 1980s, before being purchased by Ford in 1989. Land Rover, meanwhile, was bought by BMW in 1994, which expanded the range further by introducing the Freelander. It then joined Jaguar under Ford in 2000, with the two companies becoming closely linked, sharing engineering knowledge and facilities.
In 2008, the two brands were bought by Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile manufacturer. Sales and profits have risen year on year and in 2013, the company officially joined Tata Motors Group.