Jaguar and Land Rover: Tata Motors acquires a rich legacy

Tata Motors has just created history by acquiring the British marques Jaguar and Land Rover, part of Ford Motors' Premier Automobile Group. With this purchase, Tata Motors has also acquired a slice of automotive history. Sourya Biswas looks into what the acquisition brings to the Tata Group.

Those who had derided Tata Motors' now successful attempt to manufacture the cheapest car in the world with the Nano, dismissing the move as being "down-market", may be forced to eat their words as the company completes the acquisition of two of the most famous names in the world of automobiles - Jaguar and Land Rover. And for those who took pride in this sensational achievement of creating a modern four-wheeler at the cost of a premium two-wheeler, this latest feather in Tata's cap is cause for additional joy.

Tata's worldwide expansion

The Tata group has always been held with tremendous respect in India, perhaps more than all other industrial houses, and is associated with almost all goods of everyday use. It was this ubiquitous presence of the Tata name that prompted two young visitors from Thailand to name their daughter "Tata". The said daughter grew up to become one of the most popular singing stars in Asia with a fan-following numbering millions. Tata Young also rocked India with her energetic performance in the bike thriller Dhoom.

But Ratan Tata, the current patriarch of the Tata group, was not contented with his business house being one of the best known in India. He wanted to extend Tata's name and influence throughout the world, and embarked on an era of rapid expansion. What started in 2000 with the acquisition of Tetley Tea and reached a new peak with the takeover of Corus Steel in 2007, has now reached its zenith with Jaguar and Land Rover coming into its fold. Or perhaps the zenith is yet to be reached. In the meanwhile, the group also made many major purchases like Nat Steel, Tyco, Millennium Steel and Eight O'clock Coffee.

The evolution of TELCO

This is the second major acquisition by the Tata Group Company Tata Motors in recent past. Exactly three years ago, Tata Motors had purchased the commercial vehicles division of crises-hit Daewoo Motors, even as its passenger cars section was hived off to General Motors. Building trucks has always been Tata Motors' forte, and the acquisition of Daewoo Commercial Vehicle only reinforced this claim. In fact, Tata Motors was earlier known as TELCO or Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company. However, exactly a decade earlier, Tata Motors had also ventured into the difficult world of passenger cars with the Indica. After initial teething problems, the Indica went on to create history as the first modern indigenous car.