Tata has begun assembly of the Freelander 2 model at its Chikli factory near Pune, India from CKD kits shipped from the UK. The company is moving the kits from the Halewood facility near Liverpool where it has invested in a new CKD packaging facility dedicated to the India exports. DHL is handling the packaging of the parts at Halewood and shipping them in containers to Pune where it is also preparing them for reassembly at the Chikli plant.
The Freelander 2 is available in India in two variants, the TD4 SE Automatic and the SD4 HSE Automatic, though the company would not divulge what its output plans were.
Jaguar Land Rover’s UK plants are currently on shutdown and the company was unable to confirm this week which ports the kits would be exported from, though the majority of the company’s products go through Southampton and Sheerness.
Tata’s CEO and managing director, Carl-Peter Forster, said the beginning of production at the Pune plant marked “a significant step in our growth strategy for the Indian market. The opening of this plant demonstrates close co-operation between the parent company Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover and we are keen to develop this further," he said.
The company first made the announcement that it would begin assembly from CKD kits in India in August last year stating that it “made sense to broaden its geographical and cost footprint as new models drive growth in the years ahead, especially in developing markets such as China, Russia, Brazil or India”.
The facility will be overseen by manufacturing and quality managers who have moved over from the UK.
Tata already sells Land Rover's Discovery and Range Rover SUVs in India as well as Jaguar XJ, XF and XK models, all of which are currently imported as complete units.
A spokesperson for Jaguar Land Rover said the shift in assembly to Pune would not have a negative impact on employment in the UK.
“Because the bodies go through the same process at Halewood there isn’t a negative impact on employment. This is incremental volume for us. The components will come from the same supply base and the bodies are manufactured at Halewood. We have actually recruited a small number of people to work within the facility that will be packaging the kits.”
That said, Tata does intend to source parts for Land Rover production locally at a later date. At the inauguration ceremony at the Pune plant, Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Ralf Speth confirmed: “We are going to invest in an research and development department to source more components from India.”
At the end of last week Jaguar Land Rover recorded a fiscal year profit of £1.04bn ($1,702m) and net revenue of more than £9,900m ($16,170m).