Do not hesitate to build that North American vehicle assembly plant, Jaguar Land Rover.
You will be amazed.
Trust me on this one.
I can’t tell you how many times history has repeated itself on this count.
The story always goes like this:
Automaker X wonders whether it has the chops to build vehicles in the U.S., Canada or Mexico.
Automaker X shyly doubts its own sanity.
Automaker X frets over the brand image fallout that making vehicles in North America will cause among a customer base stubbornly accustomed to having their cars built in [insert Old World country here].
Automaker X closes its eyes and steps on the gas anyway.
Automaker X sails into unimagined new fortunes.
Think BMW. Mercedes-Benz. Honda. Hyundai. Toyota, for heaven’s sake. (Yes, it seems ridiculous today, but even Toyota fretted over whether it could successfully pull off an American factory.) Audi. Subaru. You name it. Every one of them followed that same story line.
Now the unmistakably-British Jaguar Land Rover has revealed that it too is considering joining that parade. And no doubt the guys in Coventry are now going through the same fear and self-doubt that everyone else did.
The unmistakably-Bavarian BMW was selling around 66,000 cars a year in the U.S. back in 1992 when it took the plunge to build a factory in South Carolina. The new factory was constructed to turn out more cars than BMW’s total U.S. sales volume, with up to half of the output planned for world export.
People thought they were nuts. Even senior people inside BMW wondered about their plan. And I was there. I remember them asking me if I thought they were making a mistake.
Twenty years after opening, that South Carolina plant is about to become the biggest-volume BMW plant in the world. Last year, BMW sold nearly 340,000 vehicles in the United States, thanks very largely to that factory.
Jaguar Land Rover? Your results may vary.
But if history is any indicator, they won’t vary much.