Jaguar Land Rover are mulling the idea of setting up an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia next to a new aluminium smelting plant.
When you’re Ratan Tata, and you not only run one of the biggest conglomerates in the world but also the culturally British Jaguar Land Rover, the world tends to listen when you speak.
So when Ratan Tata said in an interview last week with Autocar India that JLR were looking at setting up an assembly plant and press shop in Saudi Arabia, the car world woke up and declared ‘Jaguar Land Rover to build cars in the Middle East’. But that’s a bit premature.
Ratan Tata’s thought process was certainly logical, as Saudi Arabia – desperate to use its natural resources to diversify its economy with more complex industry – is in the process of setting up an aluminium smelting plant which could, thanks to the very cheap energy in Saudi, eventually become the biggest…in the world.
With JLR heavily reliant on aluminium for its products, an assembly plant and press shop close by is a sensible thought. It’s also sensible to keep Saudi Arabia – the most powerful economy in the Middle East – on side. But it’s all a very long way away, if at all.
Long before JLR become a shining star of the Saudi economy, we’re going to see much more CKD assembly in India, perhaps even full manufacture of cars like the Defender, a new engine plant on the sub continent and a huge amount of production in China as the JV with Chery starts to roll out.
Still, good to have an eye for the future, even if it’s not a future that’s not exactly just round the corner.