U.S. Jaguar Car Dealers Say No to India

U.S. Jaguar car dealers are opposed to selling the premium Jaguar brand to an Indian company saying that it would screw the brand’s luxury image.

Two Indian companies Tata and Mahindra have expressed interest in acquiring the Jaguar brand from Ford.

Ken Gorin, Chairman of the Jaguar Business Operations Council, a group representing Jaguar car dealers in the U.S., told the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

I don’t believe the U.S. public is ready for ownership out of India….I believe it would severely throw a tremendous cast of doubt over the viability of the brand.

Jaguar’s U.S. dealers prefer that the Jaguar brand be sold to One Equity Partners, a unit of J.P.Morgan Chase. One Equity is headed by Jacques Nasser, a former Ford executive.

For Gorin, the main issue is image of a luxury brand and not the management capabilities of Tata or Mahindra:

My concern is perception [in the marketplace], and perception is reality…It’s about saying there are unique image issues with two of the bidders that the other one doesn’t have.

Gorin told the WSJ that his concerns wouldn’t be valid if Jaguar was a mass-market brand:

We’re a luxury brand. … There are a number of subjective items that create the luster of a brand….I don’t mean to be negative towards anyone. I don’t think we could have a Chinese-owned Jaguar.

In our view – in the U.S. at least – Jaguar just doesn’t have anywhere near the cachet of a BMW, Mercedes or Lexus any more.

Some 10 years back driving through the North shore of Long Island in New York, we would see quite a few Jaguars. But the last few times we were in the same area we hardly saw any Jaguars.

Whether the eventual buyer is Tata, Mahindra or One Equity Partners, it probably does not matter because Jaguar has become mostly irrelevant now.

To modify Marlon Brando’s classic lines from On the Waterfront:

Jaguar could have been a contender. Jaguar could have been somebody instead of a washout, which is what it is now.

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