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Environmental Goods & Services (EGS) News

Tata buyout could clean up Land Rover’s CO2 emissions - 9 May 2008

In a joint purchase of Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford for around $2.3bn announced this week, Tata Motors Ltd. of India now has both a premium and a niche vehicle range within its stable. (Incidentally, Ford purchased Jaguar for $2.5bn in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.7bn in 2000).

This could spell some good news for Land Rover, the quintessentially British utilitarian vehicle that has recently seen record sales thanks to its new Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport. At present, Landy is in a tight spot, with the Tata tie-up possibly solving its biggest problem: CO2. Landy is one of the dirtiest manufacturers on average when we look at vehicle emissions. No surprise really, with supercharged 4.2 litre V8 engines in the Range Rover and archaic diesel clunkers in its stalwart Defender range, Landy is not as green as it needs to be.

But new owners Tata could help change this. Several reasons can be found to predict a drop in Landy’s emissions, most of all because they want to. The recently launched LRX concept, set for production sometime soon, was a deliberate attempt by Landy to create a model that will sell in volume and have low emissions – helped by the proposed hybrid propulsion. This will bring down the companies average carbon footprint.

Secondly, Tata will, needless to say, be looking to incorporate some of Landy’s mechanicals in its own vehicles (it saves money to share components), requiring some cleaning up of technology to accommodate Tata vehicles in Asian and European markets. Thirdly, any co-development programs will also need to accommodate cleaner technologies to the benefit of both divisions – Europe is getting stricter on cleaning up transportation. Thirdly, any components (especially engines) sent Landy’s way from Tata will most likely be cleaner – Tata is already involved in greening its vehicles due to stringent exhaust standards springing up globally.

No guarantees, obviously, but Tata is involved in some heavy duty, commercial and utilitarian vehicle production – it has been for the past 50 years. So there is no reason why it should not utilise Landy in the future. If logic prevails, your next Landy could be much greener than the current crop.

Relevance for South Africa: There is no denying that Landy is a popular brand in South Africa. There is also no denying that these vehicles, all but the newest of the new, belches smoke from every exhaust pipe. The cleaner ones merely burn fuel better, but still use a lot. Fact is, South Africa can benefit from cleaner SUVs, especially in the clogged arteries that are inner-city highways. Cleaner Landy’s heading South Africa’s way will be welcomed.

Oh, and if Tata starts incorporating some Landy technology into its own vehicles, robust off-road ability at an affordable price might get a boost on the local market.

By Christie Viljoen for