Is Jaguar still British? Is Volvo still Swedish? Is Chrysler still American?
That question has been curiously bouncing around my head since 2009. The companies above are either partly or entirely owned by entities foreign to their country of origin. My question is - does that make them less homegrown?
Chrysler, now a subsidiary of Italian-based Fiat S.p.A, still builds cars for America in America. They even have a slogan to remind you how American they are; _Imported from Detroit._
Then out comes cars like the Dart, a byproduct of the two companies that raises an interesting question: is it Italian or American? Or is it just the first of many halfbreed offsprings from a multinational corporate matrimony?
Volvo is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, parent of Chinese automaker Geely Automobile. Most people wouldn't know this because Volvo didn't inform the masses of their new owner / savior. What would be the outcome of an ad campaign titled - “Volvo, made possible by China.”
Do you think Volvo owners in America would care that Volvo is owned by a Chinese holding company?
These same questions could be asked about Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR).
In an article today Máté Petrány said,
“the British will be worth a look too, with Caterham showing off their new entry-level prototype, and Jaguar teasing already with the mysterious C-X17…”
Is JLR still a British company even though they’re owned by an Indian company (Tata Engineering)? What makes JLR British? Is it their style, manufacturing location or is it simply the brand's heritage? Purely hypothetically speaking, if Tata were to move all JLR production to China, India and the US, would you still call the company a British brand?
If JLR were so bad under Ford, why didn't we see a large marketing push to say “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT! GET READY FOR BETTER CARS THANKS TO OUR NEW INDIAN OWNERS!”
Would something like that diminish the image of “British luxury?”
In your view, what is it that determines an automaker’s nationality and even more, what can change that perception and is that a good or bad thing to change?