By on February 18, 2010

There are changes afoot at Tata Motors’ Jaguar/Land Rover division, since CEO David Smith departed the company and former Tata CEO Ravi Kant stepped in temporarily. Smith likely left over planned cuts to JLR’s UK production capacity, and now that former Opel boss Carl-Peter Forster and BMW exec Ralf Speth have taken the reigns [via WSJ [sub]], there’s more cost-cutting afoot. Autocar reports that Jaguar Land Rover will downsize its range of architectures, from six to two, as greater platform-sharing both within and between the two marques is set to accelerate.

Tata’s plan is to develop a single steel chassis (based on Ford’s C1 platform), that will underpin three different Freelander-badged models. One of those models will be a seven passenger variant, which will replace the Discovery. The second platform is, of course, Jaguar’s all-aluminum chassis, which currently forms the basis of the XF, XK and XJ. Jaguar will reportedly develop a narrower, more flexible version of this platform upon which it plans to build its forthcoming XE sportscar.

The real party trick will be the development of a new Range Rover flagship on the current, wide-body version of the aluminum architecture that underpins the new XJ. Autocar explains that building a Range Rover on the XJ platform is actually a relatively simple process:

While the floor and front crash structure will remain the same, the Range Rover version will get a taller front bulkhead and a modified rear bulkhead, which will accommodate folding rear seats.

The XJ’s front strut towers are cast in one piece and bonded and riveted to the front chassis legs. The Range Rover will simply get taller towers to accommodate the model’s higher ride height and much greater wheel articulation.

Ta-da! Jaguar-Land Rover’s global sales tripled last month compared to the year before [via AN [sub]], suggesting that Tata has already made the first steps in the brands’ turnaround. If Jaguar can claw its way back sales-wise while cutting costs through this kind of platform rationalization, Tata’s $2b purchase of the brand will be seen as one hell of a deal. If, on the other hand, Tata starves its luxury project of too many development funds (leave that Nano platform alone!), things could turn sour just as quickly, when the Ford-developed products inevitably lose their cool.

One major challenge: how to build the smaller XE on the same platform as the XF and sharing many components with larger Jags without rendering the XK irrelevant. On a shoestring budget, no less. Best of luck with that one, lads!

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10 Comments on “Jaguar Land Rover To Downsize To Two Platforms...”

  • avatar
    Charles T

    FYI, the XF is still based on the steel Ford DEW platform that used to underpin the old S-Type.

  • avatar

    What about the defender? Wouldn’t it need to remain a body on frame? Or is the plan to share a platform & components with the TATA Scorpio?

  • avatar

    “greater platform-sharing … between the two marques”

    Oh pinch me, please! A GT that handles like a Gork! A Gork that covers super-bad terrain like Ferrari! Err….

    Sounds like a pole-vault pole made out of lead. But who am I to say? I’m sure the management is really aces at navigating a spread sheet to show the *fantastic* profits to be made by selling snow to Eskimos. Land Rover and Jaguar…no enthusiasts need apply.

  • avatar

    Are the Iranians still making Defenders under license? Maybe someone in an industrializing nation should have bought the tooling for the pre-2002-BMW-unibody-redesign Range Rover: a peerless offroad wagon if you can keep it running.

    Goodnight, sweet princes.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Nguyen Van Falk

      What’s the point of something that can off road if you can’t keep it running? I don’t understand the popularity of Defenders, Discoveries, Range Rovers, and G-wagens on this site. Sure they all are very capable of off roading, but they aren’t capable of RUNNING. What’s the point?

      The thing that baffles me even more is there are Jeep Wranglers, Toyota Land Cruisers, Toyota Land Cruiser Prados and body-on-frame Mitsubishi Montero/Pajeros. These car run with minimal care and can really rip off road and don’t need to be pampered like a track day Ferrari. As far as off roading goes, there are two criteria to meet: capability and toughness. Who cares if it’s capable if it can’t run long enough to get you anywhere. Land Rover can die as a brand and no one will care except for yuppie tools who live in the River North neighborhood of Chicago who wouldn’t even bother to drive on a gravel road in their Land Rover Sport. My contempt for Land Rovers and its fanboys knows no bounds.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed – the Wrangler is arguably the most capable stock 4×4 in existence. The current Defender has an electronic full-time transfer case, but all that does is add complication and expense. I’m sure it’s a capable vehicle, but it’s also prohibitively expensive to repair.

      I’ll take a Wrangler Rubicon instead with it’s manual 4:1 T-case and simple axle lockers (air activated on the ’06 and older models, electromagnetic on the ’07+ models). Add to that the fact that anything and everything is available for Wranglers to cutomize it to the owner’s needs and that = win.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry Dr. Nguyen, but I actually take my Rover offroad. I do share your contempt for the blinged-out new models that will never leave the pavement though.

  • avatar

    Two car brands that sells less than a Corolla in a year, with six platforms? No wonder they lose money.

    Being a yuppie douche bag myself, I can see the appeal of a Range Rover or LR4. It’s conspicuous consumption at it’s best (or worst, depending on how you view Veblen’s theory of the leisure class). I’ve seen many around town driven by “beautiful people”, and having one means you could tackle the alleyways and snow ruts that would get your XJR or 750iL stuck. The price is about the same, and the image is close to equivalent.

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