Jaguar Hopes To Make Less Expensive Car in GM Deal
Oct. 19, 1989
LONDON (AP) _ Jaguar PLC, Britain's luxury automaker, is looking to produce a less expensive model appealing to business executives if plans for cooperation with General Motors Corp. go through, a company executive said Thursday.
''An association with a large company like GM would enable us to look at the possibility of introducing a smaller Jaguar, an area in which as a small independent company we cannot consider as the investment and components-cost would be too high,'' Jaguar's David Boole said.
''We want to look at other market opportunities and one of those is a downsized model in the $30,000 to $35,000 range,'' Boole said in a telephone interview from his home near the Jaguar plant at Coventry in the English Midlands.
''Because we are small we are somewhat constrained in what we can do,'' Boole added.
Jaguar cars are known for their sleek lines and high-quality interior trim. The highest-priced model costs around $64,000.
Sir John Egan, chairman of Jaguar, said Wednesday at the opening of the London Motorfair he hoped within one month to present his stockholders with a plan outlining cooperation with GM.
The plan would thwart a merger bid by Ford, GM's U.S. domestic rival, which this week disclosed it has built a stake of 10.4 percent in Jaguar. Egan is set against a merger that would undermine his rule over one of Britain's most famous companies.
He told reporters that negotiations with GM, the world's biggest automaker, could lead to Jaguar receiving a huge cash injection and guarantee his company's independence.
British auto industry reporters said Jaguar would probably propose to its stockholders that Jaguar sell GM a 15 percent stake in the company in return for about $237 million cash.
Jaguar currently produces 50,000 cars a year and Egan said the GM deal would enable Jaguar to invest immediately in new models and cut spending on components by as much as $950 million a year.
''GM has been a supplier for decades of gear boxes to Jaguar,'' said Boole. ''The most important thing for us in an association with GM would be access to low-cost components and to GM's advanced research. That would mean developing our current range of cars and making them more cost effective.''
Boole said Jaguar would concentrate on ''critical items'' in its cars like body style, engines and the interior trim - ''what the customer sees and touches.''
He said the company would look to GM for the ''not-so-critical, out-of- sight background technology'' of wiring harness, axles, backup systems and air bags -- ''the areas in which a small company like ours finds it isn't cost effective to spend time and money.''