Could your next British car come from Saudi Arabia?
It’s possible, if a plan under consideration by Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company comes to fruition, according to a report from Autocar India.
In an interview with the magazine, Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata, who purchased Jaguar Land Rover from Ford in 2008, said that the construction of the world’s largest aluminum manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia has attracted his attention, as the luxury automaker relies heavily on the lightweight, but expensive material in the design of its vehicles.
“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 the magazine.
The facility, a joint venture between Alcoa and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company, combines mining, refining and production of the metal in one mega facility that is expected to produce the lowest-priced aluminum in the world when it goes online in 2014. It is the latest effort by the Middle East kingdom to diversify its industry beyond oil production, which is responsible for approximately 90 percent of the country’s export revenue.
Saudi Arabia has made several moves in recent years toward developing a domestic automotive industry, including a proposed $500 million joint venture with South Korean engineering firm Digm Automotive Technologies to design and engineer a vehicle for local production.
Tata did not speculate on what markets the Saudi Arabian-sourced vehicles would be sold in, but the Middle East and North Africa business region is one of its largest markets. Along with production at its base in the United Kingdom, Jaguar Land Rover currently assembles one Land Rover model in India to avoid local import duties and may soon add production of the Jaguar XF sedan.