Dave Leggett | 26 March 2008
Just been talking to Mark Bursa about Tata and JLR. Just who owns the Rover brand now? Ford bought it off of BMW and stopped Shanghai Auto getting it a couple of years back (and SAIC therefore had to resort to Roewe). Have the rights to the Rover name simply transferred over to Tata now under the terms of the JLR sale deal? We're not 100% sure, but it would be strange if that was not the case.
Don't laugh but there might be worse things to do than revisit the ill-fated CityRover badge that Tata did with the Indica and MG Rover. It's an option and maybe not quite as nuts as it sounds. The car would have to be brought up to half-decent European spec and you wouldn't sell it through Jag outlets, but maybe it could work as a sub-brand in a Land Rover showroom? Or find another, more direct, route to market? Could be a brand there that might also conceivably work for a European spec Nano in a few years time (can't quite see European Fiat dealers falling over themselves for that)?
If Tata has acquired the Rover brand, might it even consider a brand licensing deal of some sort with Shanghai Auto? There are possibilities perhaps. Lots of them.
There again, why would Tata help give the Chinese auto industry a leg-up? Ratan Tata may well be enjoying the fact that he has acquired a couple of good brands that sell in substantial volume in Western markets and are in pretty reasonable financial shape. There are profits to be banked, global sales to be developed with already there and upcoming product. Three years on, it's not quite the same story with MG Rover and the rather messy Chinese acquisition of those assets is it?
The Indians can perhaps be forgiven for enjoying this moment. Jaguar and Land Rover are now fully owned by an India-based company. A good bit of class and international prestige has been puchased off the shelf (albeit a wobbly shelf that Ford was having trouble supporting). This catapults India's standing in the global auto industry into the top league. And Nano has just wowed Geneva. And this all comes in spite of having to observe the tidal wave of Western FDI money heading into China over the last ten years.
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