Tata group firm Jaguar Land Rover is understood to have geared up to start assembly of SUV Freelander2 from November this year at Chikhli facility in Maharashtra, used earlier by Mercedes Benz. Tata Motors is currently conducting maintenance work and installing machineries on behalf of JLR at Chikhli to start the assembly around November.
“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,” a source said.
Tata Motors had earlier given the Chikhli facility to Mercedes Benz on lease. Mercedes handed over the facility again in December 2009. The plant had a capacity to produce 3,500 units in single shift. A JLR spokesperson told PTI from Gaydon: “It has been confirmed that JLR plans to assemble Land Rover vehicles in India, for the Indian market, from next year... we have no further information to share at this time.”
In June, JLR had announced plans to assemble Land Rover SUV in India from next year. Local assembly of the SUV will result in considerable reduction in prices as currently very high import duty is tagged along with the vehicle. Freelander2 comes at a starting price of Rs 33.55 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Sources said the company will carry out extensive quality checks with the locally produced Freelander2 and this is one of the main reasons for advancing the assembly of the SUV. “Besides, the company is expecting spurt in demand after the price will be lowered. So not to have long order backlogs, JLR wants to have sufficient buffer,” a source said.
Earlier, JLR had said that it would more than double its dealerships in India within this fiscal to increase sales as part of the British marque’s plan to focus more on emerging markets. The company, which currently has three dealerships in India, will add four more outlets in 2010-11.