Tata Motors mulling future of JLR Midlands plant

With an improving global economy and Jaguar Land Rover's (JLR) making a dramatic recovery in the worst recession seen by the UK automotive sector since the mid-60s, Tata Motors, the owner of JLR, is mulling its earlier decision to close one of its plants in the Midlands.

Llast month's best ever sales performance since JLR was founded in 1948 and a revamp of its top management with the induction of Carl-Peter Forster, the new group CEO of Tata Motors and Ralf Speth, the new chief executive of JLR, has led Tata Motors to rethink the future of its Lode Lane and Castle Bromwich plants in the Midlands, which were to be combined into one.

Last month, Carl-Peter Forster had ordered a fresh 100-day strategy to review the future of JLR's plants and had said that the two Midlands plants are at the heart of Tata's ambitious plans for global growth.

In September 2009, Tata Motors had said that it would merge the two West Midlands plants into one and close one of them. (See: Tata Motors to merge JLR plants, create additional 800 jobs) The automaker had also said that it would take a decision by the first half of 2010 after reviewing the costs, productivity and talks with the union.

But a month after taking the decision, JLR made a dramatic turnaround and posted a modest profit of £22 million for the last quarter of last year, its first quarterly profit since Tata Motors acquired it in June 2008.

JLR is the UK's biggest car maker and employs nearly 14,500 workers at five sites, which include three manufacturing plants and two product development centres. It is a major wealth generator for the UK with 78 per cent of Land Rovers exported to 169 countries and 70 per cent of Jaguars to 63 countries.

Since JLR is a premium car maker and its major markets like the US, Russia, China and certain parts of Europe that are now on their way to recovery, analysts feel that JLR's good run could continue into 20011-2012.