More than a decade after the iconic race car brand Jaguar was forced to pull out from the gruelling 24-hour Le Mans race, the new owner, the Rs 16,400-crore Tata Motors [Get Quote], is considering a plan to put the brand back on the racing track.
Tata Motors, India's largest automobile company, bought the cult British brand together with Land Rover from Ford earlier this year in a combined $2.3 billion deal. Ford had pulled Jaguar out of this annual race in Le Mans, France, for lack of funds.
"We want to hit the Le Mans race, for which we are already re-examining whether we can bring back the Jaguar brand to its earlier state," Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Motors, said at the company's annual general meeting earlier this week.
Experts said the strategy of putting Jaguar back on the race track makes sense because the brand itself was built on its rich racing history.
Jaguar won its last Le Mans race, which started in 1923, in 1990, with the Jaguar XJR 12. The brand hit its peak in the 1950s, when it won five out of seven races held between 1951 and 1957 and seven races overall. The most successful marque in the history of the race has been German brand Porsche with 16 victories. Other participants included Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Peugeot, BMW, Bentley, Renault and Alfa Romeo.
"Jaguar had lost its sheen over the years and the brand had suffered. Despite this, it has a very loyal customer and dealer base spread across various countries. Both Jaguar and Land Rover have tremendous engineering capabilities and now it is upon us to keep it together," Tata added.
The acquisition of the two brands has made Tata Motors the world's 17th largest automobile maker, up from the 30th place earlier. Jaguar is currently evaluating maiden launches in some of the world's rapidly-developing automobile markets like Russia and China.