Positioning is paramount in the car industry and Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover is in pole position according to Christian Stadler, associate professor of strategy at Warwick Business School in England. The school's WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group), works closely with industry partners such as Tata and its JLR luxury vehicle unit, according to its website.

Pre-tax annual profits at Jaguar Land Rover rose 11% to a record GBP1.67bn (US$2.5bn) and helped temper a 36% fall in profits at the company's parent group, Tata Motors. Total world sales at Jaguar Land Rover were up 22% to almost 375,000 vehicles.

Stadler said: “These are fantastic figures from JLR. They have added 8,000 jobs over the past two years and they target exactly the right customers at the moment: rich people in growing car markets like China, the US, and Russia.

“In mature industries like the car industry, positioning is particularly important and JLR’s customers are people who are not hit by the economic crisis to the extent that they need to delay the purchase of a new car.

“The new Range Rover Evoque model is a perfect example of this strategy, allowing JLR to charge a premium to customers who value the image of an off-road vehicle without ever needing its capacity.”

Success at Jaguar and other UK car factories is also reason for optimism. Stadler added: “The outlook for the UK car industry is positive as historic weaknesses are no longer a major concern.

“In a 2009 report the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team was concerned about high labour costs, lack of skilled labour and tough environmental regulations. None of these are a great weakness today.

“The first will be less of an issue in coming years as automation reduces the importance of labour costs. The second is less of an issue during the current recession as more engineers are looking for jobs, and the third turns out to be an advantage as UK manufacturers are ready for customers who are concerned about issues like climate change.

“On top of this manufacturers value the UK car industry’s labour flexibility – a notable difference compared to somewhere like Germany.”