Who Will Drive Away with Land Rover and Jaguar?

The bidding is hotter than expected for Ford’s two premium brands, Land Rover and Jaguar. Ford received at least six offers for the two brands today. Most of the bidders are private equity groups, like Cerberus Capital Management — the one that just snapped up Chrysler on the cheap, not to mention a couple of automotive suppliers.

But the most intriguing rumor is that Tata Motors of India, and perhaps even its rival Mahindra, are interested. A Tata acquisition of Land Rover would give the ambitious Indian group a bonafide brand with global sales, speeding its entry into western markets. It would also gain SUV models technology that it could leverage to great advantage in the fast-growing Indian market. For now, Mahindra leads in SUVs — and Mahindra is moving rapidly into Tata’s turf through a joint venture to produce Renault’s Logan for India.

It’s harder to see how Tata would revamp Jaguar, but savvy group Chairman Ratan Tata could well bring in a third party to help reinvent the premium sportscar maker. As long as he doesn’t share platforms with Tata’s existing cars — like Ford did — he’d be off to a better start.

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