As VehicleVoice intrepidly reported last week, it appeared that Nanjing Auto had stepped in to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover, but hold your horses!
Now, after his diesel powered land speed record car set a new land speed record (improving the old mark by about 100mph), Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of construction equipment company JCB, has expressed an interest in buying British luxury automaker Jaguar from Ford Motor Company.
“If they can separate Jaguar out [from Land Rover] then I’d like to buy it,” he was quoted as saying in an August 24 London Times media report. Now maybe Sir Anthony was a bit euphoric over his land speed record, or over the champers consumed afterwards, but this may be more than smoke.
Bamford says that he wants Jag, not Land Rover (the profitable part of the duo). Probably because he could get Jag for a song and would have to pay beaucoup blue sky.
Ford may not want to unbundle Jaguar from Land Rover and Aston Martin – Ford’s two other English Premier Automotive Group brands – because of the level of product integration the three brands have achieved in the UK and in the USA. Ford may try to insist that selling embattled Jaguar may only be possible as part of a deal involving Land Rover and Aston. Bamford is quoted in the London Times as saying, “If they sold Jaguar to me, Ford could then make a lot of money by selling Land Rover. Selling the two together won’t make much because Jaguar is regarded in the world as a dog,”
Ford has thrown billions of dollars at Jag since it bought the British automaker in 1989. After an auspicious start when Ford’s purchasing wizards helped Jaguar achieve spectacular cost and quality improvements, Ford has not shown that it understands a premium luxury brand much. The new XK and XJ are great cars mechanically, but not changed enough from ther predecessors in styling to turn heads to the degree required at the top of the market. “Perhaps we were too conservative,” said a highly placed Ford of Europe executive. Every Mondeo-based Jag X-Type sells hurts the Jaguar image incrementally. The S-Type, the middle of its range and worthy of selling substantial volumes, its almost-cartoonish styling has aged rapidly and is sorely in need of replacement.
Forbes Magazine reports that “Sir Anthony–whose father started JCB in 1945, before he himself turned it into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of earthmoving machines–may be the most credible candidate to date. JCB is a family owned, private company. It’s also very profitable–it made £110 million ($208 million) in 2005–and currently builds 45,000 vehicles each year.
Bamford is also a Jag enthusiast. “I knew [Jaguar founder] Sir William Lyons, who was a friend of my father’s, and he was involved in most aspects of the plant. JCB is run in a similar way. Although we are not in the car business, we are familiar with every aspect of lean manufacturing and worldwide marketing. All our senior management are involved in every aspect of the business. There isn’t an enormous structure and bureaucracy,” he told the 4Car Web site.
The Englishman is also bubbling with ideas for the brand. He proposed reconnecting future models with the company’s racing roots, criticized Ford’s decision to cancel plans for an F-Type roadster and suggested Jag needed downsizing.”
Also in Bamford’s arsenal is Mathew Taylor former managing director of Land Rover. With Taylor in the fold, JCB has the basics for a deep understanding of the inner workings of Ford’s English PAG brands.