NEW DELHI — Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata has said Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is examining the possibility of setting up an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia to benefit from the upcoming multi-billion integrated aluminum complex in the country, according to a media report.
With JLR going for more aluminum content in its products, Tata said the company could benefit in the long term from "very competitive" aluminum from the project.
Saudi Arabian mining firm Ma’aden, in a joint venture with Alcoa, is undertaking a $ 10.8 billion project to set up what has been dubbed as the world’s largest vertically integrated aluminum complex.
"This smelter could make the production of aluminum in Saudi Arabia very competitive. So taking a really long-term view, if we put an assembly plant there with a large press shop, given our commitment to aluminum in our products, we could have an interesting business case which we are examining today," Tata told in an interview with Autocar India magazine.
The smelter and rolling mill located at Ras Al Khair is expected to start operations in 2013 while the alumina refinery is slated to be operational by 2014.
Earlier this year, JLR had announced an investment 3.5 billion yuan (over Rs2,800 crore) in its joint venture with Chery Automobile in China to commence local assembly there. The plant is envisaged to have an initial production capacity of 50,000 units per annum.
Tata, who will retire and step down as chairman of Tata Motors in December, also revealed that the company was considering building the new Land Rover Defender in India "for various markets" as well as manufacturing some component assemblies to supply to the new Defender production line in the UK. He also hinted that production of the current Defender could be shifted to India because it "may not be feasible to manufacture in western Europe any longer".
Tata also said the company was "trying to align Tata Motors’ development to create a greater synergy with Jaguar".
Other projects being considered for India include an "engine venture" (possibly building the new-generation four-cylinder JLR engines) and assembly of the Jaguar XF. — SG/Agencies