When Ford said
Tata to Jaguar
With Ford having sold the British Raj, in the
form of Jaguar Cars, to India in the form of Tata Motors, does this
spell the end of what was once a very proud marque?
One American “lady”, a Mrs. Evelyn Davis thinks so, standing up at
the board meeting of Ford at which it is reported that she said,
“Tata sells cars that are $2,500 to the lowest of the low outcasts
of India,” Mrs. Davis adding that Jaguar represented elegance and
exclusivity. “How could the board sell us out to an outfit like that
who sell to people like that?”
Wonderful stuff! I didn’t know that people like her still existed in
this world. What a pity she wasn’t around for the French or Russian
revolutions! And while Jaguar (once) represented elegance (remember
the slogan, ‘Grace, Space and Pace’) it was never a marque that
survived on exclusivity. Sir William Lyons built cars that were
affordable (an XK 150 was half the price of the Mercedes 300SL), and
not exclusive like Bentley or Rolls. Incidentally, Mrs. Davis does
own a Ford Mondeo, sorry, Jaguar X-Type, which was personally
delivered to her by none other than Bill Ford himself, the world’s
highest paid delivery driver.
Now what I didn’t know, until it was pointed out to me by my ‘Editor
at Large’ John Weinthal, the Tata Group has a much longer history
than Jaguar Cars. In fact, they have been involved in the
transportation industry for over 50 years, building military
vehicles, commercial buses, and trains.
Tata also has a very long history of supporting charities and I
believe that Tata was already offering worker benefits such as child
care and pensions long before most companies in the West. The early
founding family of Tata helped finance Mahatma Gandhi while he was
in South Africa fighting for the rights of immigrant Indians and 66
percent of Tata’s holding company’s shares are held by charitable
trusts, and many of its companies fund grassroots anti-poverty
projects. The Nano budget-priced vehicle is just another project to
help elevate India’s poor.
Ratan Tata has said that Nano and Jaguar will be kept separate and
with the diverse nature of the Tata group, I see no problem with
their being able to do that.
However, with the financial problems in America right now, you never
know, you might see Mrs. Evelyn Davis in a Nano in the not too
Last week I mentioned that the trend to rear engined Indy cars is often thought
to have come after Jack Brabham raced the rear engined Cooper-Climax at the
Brickyard in 1961. However, was he the first with this layout? No he was not, as
drivers such as Lee Oldfield had a rear engined Marmon Special in 1937 and some
of the Miller cars were also rear engined, pre WWII.
So to this week. What was the first mass produced car with recessed door
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
An open letter to sales and marketing
I was in the market for a new car. Now, sales and marketing gurus, I
would like to pose the following question. What day of the week does a salaried
employee have off so that he can go round car dealerships and look at cars?
Sunday, correct. What day of the week do you close your dealerships? Sunday,
that is also correct! Is there a basic truth here that somebody is missing in
Your friendly car salesman
I went to the Bangkok International Motor Show and saw one that I
could be interested in. I got my wife to ring when I got home, and waited
for the result of the call. “He has not got any cars left. He is very busy.
He will ring us later.”
It was April when my wife rang. This is now September. I have given up
hanging around near the phone. Either he is very, very busy or the
manufacturer stopped production when they heard I was interested. Perhaps
they were afraid I might not like it.
I began looking locally and I saw a very attractive car on the forecourt of
a major dealership close to my home. That would be good, I could easily drop
the car off for service.
There was only one problem, the model seen on display on the forecourt
turned out to be a private car. It was not a production car. It did not even
belong to the dealership. I asked if I could go for a run in one of their
demonstrator cars. “Yes, but not the same size engine.” “No, I want to drive
one with the same size engine as the one I might buy.” “Sorry, that one not
The reason that car was immobile on the showroom floor was only the fact
that it had a flat battery. Another car was driven into the showroom, jumper
leads applied, and the demonstrator taken out into the sunshine for me to
drive. Can you imagine what I was thinking as I drove down the road? “I hope
it doesn’t stall on me. This car has a flat battery and nobody cared.” Did
this little scenario make me impressed with the dealership (or the
manufacturer)? What would the servicing be like?
Lesson number 1 in the car salesman’s manual - always have any car spotless,
tuned, cleaned, fuel in the tank and air in the tyres and ready to go on a
demo drive. This lesson seems to have been forgotten in Thailand 2008. I am
told, however, that when a possible purchaser wants to have a test drive,
some dealerships will just not do this. Considering that a new motor car is
the second most expensive purchase in most people’s lifetime, surely your
sales personnel should try just a little harder? It might even increase your
sales, and the profitability of your company.