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Jaguar May Consider Selling Historic Plant

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LONDON - Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar unit said Wednesday it may consider selling its historic Browns Lane plant near Coventry, England, as part of a recovery plan aimed at boosting its sagging fortunes.

"There are a number of options being discussed," said spokesman Ken McConomy. "They're just options at the minute."

He said selling the Coventry plant, where Ford announced last year it would halt production, could be one of the options.

McConomy declined to comment on a report Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal that Ford planned to cut production at Jaguar by as much as 7 percent next year.

"We're a company that's planning a recovery. ... We need to examine all our cost base and our revenue," he said. "We're at the very early stages of that."

"It's a very tough environment that we're in, we have said that we're concentrating on our revenue margins, we're looking at selling at a higher margin, that could reduce our production levels," he added.

Jaguar has been troubled by weak sales and competition from rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus division. Jaguar sales in the United States were down 33 percent in the first 10 months of this year, according to Autodata Corp.

Jaguar's parent company also has been struggling with declining market share and high labor and health care costs. In October, Ford reported a third-quarter loss of $284 million, dragged down more than $1 billion in losses at its North American division.

Ford doesn't report separate earnings for Jaguar. But the company's Premier Automotive Group, which includes the Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover brands, reported a pretax loss of $108 million for the quarter, versus a loss of $171 million last year.

In 2004, the Premier Automotive Group reported a loss of $740 million, versus a profit of $171 million in 2003.

Jaguar went through a major restructuring last year under Mark Fields, the former head of the Premier Automotive Group who was named Ford's president of the Americas this fall. Under that restructuring action, Jaguar closed one plant, cut 750 staff jobs and pulled out of Formula One racing.

At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, Fields said Jaguar was showing improvement but that more needed to be done. He backed away from a previously stated target of making Jaguar profitable by 2007.

"It's starting the process of being on the mend but we've got a long way to go," Fields said. "My expectation was that Jaguar would show sequential improvement in its business results, and so far it has. At the same time, the Jag situation does not lend itself to a quick fix."

Fields is now developing a restructuring plan to be announced in January that will include "significant" U.S. plant closings and staff reductions.

Ford shares fell 15 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $8.38 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Ford shares have traded in a 52-week range of $7.57 to $15.

Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051130/ap_on_...HNlYwMlJVRPUCUl
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Jaguar already sold their classic inline-six and V12 engines. Anyone ever notice that TVR introduced a six and a V12 right after Jaguar stopped making them?
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