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JLR Enters The Indian Market. What Are They Thinking?

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Posted On: Jul 2, 2009 By: Category: Land Rover News

It’s hard to imagine a Range Rover driving through the set of Slum Dog Millionaire, so is this a move of starry-eyed optimism or blurry-eyed desperation?

Yes, Tata Motors is an Indian owned and based company, and yes, Tata Motors purchased Jaguar Land Rover to (presumably) market the brands worldwide and pocket a profit. But now, after nearly two years of rocky ownership, they are bringing the formerly Ford-owned JLR group onto their home turf.

Admittedly, our vision of India is mostly a product of Bollywood, the giant Indian movie juggernaut who most recently – and most notably – brought us Slum Dog Millionaire, so perhaps our view of India is skewed to the shallow end of the income pool. I mean, there must be some money in a land of 1.6 billion (with a B) people. That’s 324 people per square kilometer; nearly one quarter of Earth’s resident homo sapiens population.

Yet India is home to the world’s fourth largest economy, behind the U.S., China and Japan… and Japan is getting nervous.

Perhaps we should be getting nervous, too. Hu Shih, former Chinese ambassador to the United States, said “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her borders.” Hell, they just stole (OK, earned) our most coveted Academy Award for best picture. What’s next?

But can JLR reasonably expect their Indian car-buying public to part with 6.3 million rupees – that’s about $131 large – in a land infested with poverty, to purchase a Land Rover Discovery? Especially on the heels of its announcement of its $520 million loss last year?

I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t count them out. After all, they invented counting. Albert Einstein: “We owe a a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."

Maybe we're dealing with a pretty savvy car company here after all.

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