JLR to assemble Freelander 2 at Chikli; price may drop

Tata Motors Ltd, which acquired British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Co in 1998, will start the assembly of the Land Rover Freelander 2 at its Chikhli facility in Maharashtra from November.

The Chikhli facility was used by Mercedes Benz previously as its assembling plant on lease from Tata Motors. Mercedes handed the facility back to Tata in December 2009. According to a a company release in Mumbai, Tata Motors is now carrying out maintenance work and setting up machinery for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) there.

Freelander 2 being the least expensive vehicle in JLR's luxury vehicles line up, it will be the first choice for Tata Motors to assemble in India.

The Chikhli plant had a capacity to produce 3,500 units annually working on a single shift. A JLR spokesperson confirmed that the company plans to assemble Land Rover vehicles for the Indian market from 2011.

"JLR has decided to start assembling vehicles with their cheapest offering in India, which is Freelander2. It wants to start production soon. So it has decided to utilise Tata Motors' almost ready facility at Chikhli," the release said.

Freelander 2 currently currently costs Rs33.5 lakh for the basic fully imported model, but the price may come down to Rs25-30 lakh with local assembly.

JLR expects the lowering of price will lead to not only increase in demand but will also help to reduce the long order backlog. It will also enable the company to keep quality check under its control if the cars are assembled locally.