Jaguar PR Boss Talks F-Type Coupe, Turnaround Under Tata
Jaguar is a brand steeped in automotive history. From icons like the E-Type to record setting cars like the XJ220, the British automaker is as tied to performance and speed as any in the world.
Through the 1990’s and early 2000s, the brand seemed to have lost that passion for speed under Ford ownership. Thankfully, all that changed when Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) were purchased by Indian company Tata. For Americans, Ratan Tata was largely an unknown, but Jaguar / Land Rover’s North American Vice President of Communications Stuart Schorr explains in an exclusive interview this week what the takeover meant for the brands.
Schorr was at Chrysler when JLR was purchased by Tata, and was quite wrapped up in dealing with their challenges at the time. He came onto the JLR team after the purchase, giving him a very unique vantage point in the recent turnaround for the brand.
BoldRide: What was your reaction to the purchase at the time?
Stuart Schorr: “Tata was a complete unknown for a westerner. American/European auto industry considered Tata an unknown. We didn’t know what to make of it at the time. But the brands seemed to be at interesting places, with Land Rover doing well, but no clue what the future would hold for Jaguar.”
What was that transition like, after being part of Chrysler for some very challenging years?
“JLR was smaller, thus you could engage with leadership and move quickly to make an impact. We were able to put together a team that was given a mandate to be more aggressive and proactive. We had a lot of new debuts in the last two years and had to keep up with that.”
To your knowledge, what were some of the major changes that took place on a corporate, R&D, and production level?
“The F-Type had not been decided upon in 2009. The Range Rover and RR Sport had not yet been engineered, but planned. The R-model has only been a recent development.
You have to remember, JLR was a small part of a giant corporation (Ford). While that had benefits, it also tended to mean JLR was not the main driver in a business decision. Now we are independent, we are owned by Tata, but not controlled.
Tata created an environment where they are extremely bullish. They said we are standalone, but expected us to be aggressive. Tata owns us, but we manage ourselves.”
What did you see internally that had you convinced Jaguar would make a big comeback?