Byline: BY ALISTAIR HOUGHTON Daily Post Business Staff
THE new owner of Halewood's Jaguar and Land Rover plant will bring new models to the factory and ensure it has a bright future.
That's the view of two of the motor industry's leading analysts as Ford today prepares to confirm the sale of the iconic brands.
This lunchtime, Indian motor giant Tata Motors is expected to sign an agreement with Ford worth an estimated pounds lbn to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The deal will also see Ford pay pounds 300m into Jaguar and Land Rover's pension funds, according to union sources.
Tata's bid has already won the support of trade union Unite, and chairman Ratan Tata has said he wants to preserve the brands' British heritage.
Now analysts say Tata will have to invest in new models to drive the Jaguar and Land Rover brands forward, and that the Hale-wood plant will be in pole position to secure that investment.
Garel Rhys, professor emeritus at Cardiff University and one of the world's leading researchers into the automotive industry, said Tata could "unlock" the potential of the production line at Hale-wood. He said that with Jaguar's Midlands plants close to capacity Halewood should secure production of any new models, including a replacement for the X-Type.
Prof Rhys said: "Halewood is an efficient and profitable operation with an excellent reputation."
He hoped Tata would put "real gusto" into developing a replacement for the X-Type to take on market leaders such as the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.
The X-Type has not been the success Jaguar had hoped, after motor industry critics were underwhelmed by the vehicle's use of Ford Mondeo components and the initial lack of diesel and …