Wednesday 12 February 2014

Defender replacement to adopt Hotfire

One of the vehicles set to adopt JaguarLandRover’s (JLR) Hotfire engine from Wolverhampton will be the next generation Land Rover Defender.

The last Defender will roll-off the production lines of JLR’s Solihull factory in the West Midlands in December 2015.

Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern has said: ‘Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide.’

A JLR spokesman has said: “Production of Defender in its current format will stop at the end of 2015.”

A replacement vehicle will join the Land Rover model range, but we have not yet announced the name, or any details of the new product. The Defender in its current format is coming to an end and we are looking at the options.’

But Land Rover engineers have been hard at work creating a new replacement Defender fit for the 21st century. And the Hotfire has been earmarked as a potential powertrain for future models.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show two years ago JLR unveiled open-topped off-roader – codenamed DS100 Sport – designed for off-road use. A derivation of this and others is likely to be one of a small family of Defenders.

The last Defender will roll-off the production lines of JLR’s Solihull factory in the West Midlands in December 2015.

But already a bold new successor for the 21st century is on the drawing board ready to replace it. A small ‘family’ of Defenders is even being prepared, including a sporty beach-buggy style.
                                 JLR profits vital to Tata

The Defender is just one of many products that Tata Motors, which owns JaguarLandRover, will come to rely on in the coming years. The UK-based business is proving to be a vital lynch pin of the Indian company which is finding trade in its own back yard fragile, to say the least.

The company has just posted pre-tax earnings for the third quarter that are more than double from last year to £842 million on sales up from £3.8 billion to £5.3 billion.

On the back of this, and rising JLR sales in China and the US, the company is looking to increase spending in response to higher demand. There is talk JLR could spend up to 12 percent of revenue, or even more, possibly topping £3.7 billion in 2015. This is good news for suppliers and equipment providers. But raises pressure still further for the UK-based business to perform – and keep performing.

Sales in China, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of JLR sales, rose by 46 percent. In the US, sales grew 33 percent. In Europe the figure was a modest but useful eight percent while in the UK sales rose 10 percent.  

Sales at Jaguar Land Rover, the automaker’s main profit contributor, climbed 19 percent to a record 425,006 units in 2013.

But in India turnaround of the local automotive business may prove much harder to execute, especially following the death of the company’s managing director, Karl Slym, who headed the company (with the exception of JLR) and who mysteriously fell to his death last month. He was 51. The situation in India is being closely monitored by senior JLR executives in the UK.

Slym, who originated from Derby in the UK, had led efforts to revive profitability at the Indian business as it lost market share to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and the local unit of Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co.

Tata’s domestic passenger vehicle deliveries crashed 37 percent in the nine months through to December 2103. This was the highest among automakers that report monthly sales to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. The company’s truck sales dropped 25 percent in the same period.

Demand for trucks and cars in India will remain depressed into the next fiscal year starting April 1, according to Tata Motors chief financial officer C. Ramakrishnan.

“We expect demand to remain stressed as it’s choppy times and tough to forecast,” added Ranjit Yadav, president of Tata Motors passenger-vehicle business. “We expect a tough few quarters ahead.”

The local business of Tata Motors reported a profit of 12.5 billion rupees compared with a loss of 4.58 billion rupees a year earlier after transferring an overseas unit to a holding company. Tata Motors will transfer its South African, Thai and Indonesian units to the same holding company by March 31, according to Ramakrishnan.

All of which implies that JLR is a vital element of Tata Motors, and none more so than JLR’s new engine plant in Wolverhampton which will be crucial in helping maintain the company’s upward path. The plant will make both gasoline and diesel engines and is providing useful work for vendors such the Fives Group which last July acquired the assets of MAG IAS LLC and included brands such as Cincinnati and Giddings & Lewis, as well as all of the patents of the MAG Group.

Fives Group, based in France, claimed that 2013 would see it achieve sales of €2 billion from 7,500 employees in 30 countries. If true, then this would equate to €266,666 per employee. Fives Machining Systems Inc. is based in Erlanger, Kentucky.

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