Tata pledge: Won’t allow Midlands to decline like Detroit

London, Nov 25 (Inditop.com) Tata Motors chief Ravi Kant has said green technologies being embraced by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) can help a key British manufacturing region avoid the fate of Detroit – home of the declining American auto industry.

“If we need a warning about what awaits us and our communities if we do not adapt, then the 5th October 2009 edition of Time magazine provides it. Its headline is ‘The Tragedy of Detroit’,” Kant told a meeting of Britain’s main car makers and some leading politicians.

“I never want to see a similar headline about Birmingham or Liverpool. So we must accept both the rigours of the changing global economy and the challenges of a changing global society,” he said at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ International Automotive Summit in London Tuesday.

An article in America’s Time magazine last month charted the decline of Detroit, blaming politicians, manufacturing bosses and workers’ unions for resisting measures that writer said “might have forced the American automobile industry to make cars that could stand up to foreign competition”.

In Britain, JLR owners Tata Motors has been facing calls by workers unions and local politicians to roll back parts of its business plan that envisages closing down a factory in the Midlands region, the centre of British automobile manufacturing, by 2014 on account of shrinking global demand.

Kant, the managing director of Tata Motors, said it was important for the car industry to learn from the experience of Detroit, and move to green technologies.

“That is why in JLR we are in the midst of a major transformation plan to withstand future shocks and to create a sustainable business. That is why the new product plan laid down by JLR will attack emissions like never before,” he said.

Describing climate change as the most important factor in future automobile production, he gave the example of the new so-called ‘baby Land Rover’, which he said will be the “most environmentally friendly Land Rover ever” when it is rolled out in 2011.

Kant’s comments chime in with plans announced by the government, which has repeatedly stressed the role of high-tech green industries in helping Britain emerge from its worst recession in history.

But Kant also reminded the audience, which included Britain’s Business Minister Peter Mandelson, that the government had no role to play in helping revive the auto industry.

The summit, which was attended by more than 120 industry leaders, government and other stakeholders, was called to discuss the future of the British automobile industry, which contributes 52 billion pounds to the British economy.