Jaguar Land Rover survival crucial to Britain: Lord Bhattacharya

January 1st, 2009 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Jan 1 (IANS) A leading Indian-origin academic has warned that Britain’s main manufacturing region could become an industrial wasteland if carmakers Jaguar Land Rover is allowed to fail in the current economic climate.Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, who heads the Warwick Manufacturing Group at Warwick University, said negotiations between the British government and JLR owner Tata Motors for a loan were “going well.”

But he gave a stark warning over the cost of failure.

“Directly and indirectly there are 600,000 employees dependent on JLR. If the company was allowed to fail there would be meltdown in the West Midlands - we would have an industrial wasteland. Surely we don’t want that to happen,” he told the Birmingham Post in comments published Tuesday.

“The financial sector is in crisis, the service sector is reducing and if manufacturing goes down, where will we create employment?

“The future of the world is technology. Who will recognise the UK as an international player if we are prepared to let JLR go? That is what the government needs to ask itself,” said Bhattacharya, who has close contacts with British premier Gordon Brown and Tata chairman Ratan Tata.

Bhattacharya’s warning follows a sharp downturn in demand for new cars in Britain - a decline that the auto industry, led by JLR, wants addressed through a government bailout.

He hit out at critics of a government bailout, saying JLR is competitive and is setting new green standards among luxury cars.

“Jaguar Land Rover is not some sort of basket case. It is in the process of developing around eight new models over the next two to three years,” he told the Birmingham Post.

“We are not talking about another MG Rover. Rover did not have the R&D and it did not have the products to be competitive. JLR has.”

He pointed out that the US, Sweden, Spain and France are offering “massive subsidies” to their car industries.

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