Ford Motor Co.'s sale of the Jaguar and Land Rover U.K. luxury brands to India's Tata Motors will affect 353 franchises in the U.S. — 179 handling Jaguar cars and 174 selling Land Rover SUVs.
Of those, 90 Land Rover dealerships are in exclusive one-brand buildings and 41 are Jaguar-only outlets.
Jaguar dealer Irma Elder, whose Ford store in the Detroit suburb of Troy, is one of Michigan's largest in volume, led the nation in Jaguar sales for many years until the sales dip in 2007.
Her sales benefited from discounted-program purchases by several Ford employees and retirees in southeastern Michigan. She recently built a sleek Jaguar dealership in Troy.
“Jaguar was a shining star for Ford,” says Elder, who also owns dealerships in Florida. “I have every confidence it will retain the same luster for Tata.
“They're a top player in the India market and could add several of their truck, SUV and car brands when they begin exporting to the U.S,” she says.
Jaguar and Land Rover dealers were concerned about Ford Motor Credit Co.'s future role with their brands under the Tata umbrella. As part of the purchase agreement with Tata, Ford Credit will continue financing dealer floorplanning and customer loans and leases for a year.
Tata is a global conglomerate operating 98 companies worldwide. Those include chemical plants, steel mills and hotels. Its 2006-07 revenues totaled $28.8 billion.
Based in Mumbai (Bombay), Tata Motors produced a record 375,869 vehicles in 2007. At the Geneva auto show in March, Tata introduced an all-new, no-frills Nano mini-car priced at $2,500.
Elder, who was unable to land a Smart mini-car franchise, says, “Maybe I can make up for it by getting the Tata Nano for one of my stores.”