The sale of Jaguar Land Rover is "inevitable", according to a former Land Rover chief engineer.

The comments from Dr Charles Tennant come after a union which represents thousands of JLR staff called for clarity after reports the luxury car maker could be sold.

Leaked information suggests flourishing French car group PSA - owner of Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall - could be about to purchase JLR .

Dr Tennant has now warned the acquisition could prove painful in terms of the cuts that would almost certainly come in the wake of it.

It is understood a "post-sale integration document" - which outlines the benefits of the two companies joining forces - is already in circulation and both firms are exploring the details of cost savings.

A spokesman for PSA said that the European firm was in "no hurry" to make acquisitions and could "stand alone".

He spoke to CoventryLive and said such a move should not come as a surprise.

Reacting to the mounting speculation Mr Tennant, who was also a director of Tata Motors’ European Technical Centre, said: “This comes as no surprise at all and we should not take any notice of either Tata Motors or Jaguar Land Rover denials at all.

“They are obliged to deny it until the ink is dry on the contract."

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Mr Tennant added: “I advised Lord Bhattacharyya - who until his sad passing was himself advising Ratan Tata on Jaguar Land Rover strategy - last year that Jaguar Land Rover was in a death spiral of its own making, and that Tata would need to fund massive losses and investment now or sell up.

“Well the falling sales and losses at Jaguar Land Rover have just escalated since then and Tata have been very quiet whilst considering what best to do for them.

“Clearly Tata have looked at what the £2.5 billion cost savings plan will deliver in the context of future sales and profit forecasts, and perhaps they can see a cliff edge ahead.”

As far as the likelihood of the sale is concerned, Dr Tennant described it as “inevitable” and said although PSA should prove a good owner that rationalisation would almost certainly follow.

He said: “Clearly the Peugeot talks are at an advanced stage, and their top management have already indicated a desire to enter the premium and luxury market, so a Jaguar Land Rover  acquisition is like a dream come true for them - just as it was for Tata Motors only 11 years ago.

“It is now inevitable that Jaguar Land Rover will be sold off, and I think Peugeot could be a very cohesive new owner.

“They have the need and cash to do it.

“Mind you I’m afraid that the next stages will be drastic and painful with the inevitable rationalisation of product and production sites, whilst planning for future electrification.

“But this is just a process of creative destruction where new technologies and products have to be implemented to safeguard the future of industries and companies, and their employment.

“As I said once before, for Jaguar Land Rover’s loyal work force and numerous owners over the years that is deja vu.”

Tata Motors recently said there was “no truth to rumours that Tata Motors is looking to divest its stake in Jaguar Land Rover ” but speculation about a sell-off has continued.

Some analysts suggested Tata may sell-off Jaguar, the smaller of the car maker’s two brands, as an alternative way forward.

However Mr Tennant dismissed that, saying that both marques were now so intertwined it would make such a move almost impossible from an engineering perspective.

He said: “The alternatives of Tata doing joint ventures or selling off, say Jaguar alone, won’t work because of the appalling state of affairs the whole company finds itself in.

“Also, Jaguar Land Rover is now so heavily integrated it would be a minefield trying to disentangle Jaguar from Land Rover.”

Dr Tennant also highlighted product issues with the company, including a gap of almost four years between production of the iconic Land Rover Defender ending and its replacement being unveiled.

He said: “ Jaguar Land Rover have been gradually releasing information about the Land Rover Defender launch for next year, even claiming that its late entry into the market place is a good thing to make sure they get it right.

“I don’t know of many auto companies that actually stop making a product for four years before the replacement is ready.

“Also, it is to be noted that the most recent vehicle - the Range Rover Evoque - still does not have plug-in hybrid or electric options because it has not been designed to fully accommodate electrification until 2025.

“In addition the updated Jaguar XE is still only a one horse solution, with no estate, or coupe derivatives to bolster future sales.

“This is all about a new product introduction process that has failed in areas of product planning, investment priorities, robust product development, manufacturing capacity planning, and quality.”

 

Sources inside JLR, meanwhile, and contrary to statements downplaying prospects of a sale, say "things are moving quickly behind closed doors".

One insider, who has seen the integration paperwork, said: "To have a document like this in circulation at the two firms points to the fact things are very far down the line with either a sale or acquisition.

"Just look at how close the two firms are in the UK - the two head offices in Coventry and Gaydon are just 25 miles apart and both firms make cars in the UK.

"There are plenty of ways the two companies could save money by working together."

 

Automotive industry expert Professor David Bailey, of the Birmingham Business School, believes the tie-up could be a good fit for both brands.

He said: "PSA said last month it was interested in acquiring JLR but [its owner] Tata publicly ruled out a sale.

"Tata shareholders' patience may be wearing thin, though, given recent JLR losses. A partial sale may be an option.

"I'm sceptical about JLR being able to go it alone bearing in mind the need for very high research and development spend on new technology given that the auto industry will transform itself in the coming years towards connected, autonomous electric cars.

"At some point JLR may have to collaborate with another auto firm. A partial PSA stake might open that up."

Des Quinn, meanwhile, national officer for automotive sector at Unite the Union, said: "Unite notes Tata’s denial of these unhelpful rumours.

"We will be seeking an urgent clarification from both Jaguar Land Rover and PSA.

"Our paramount concern are the livelihoods of our members who have worked hard to ensure the success of both Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall.

"The industry is undergoing a period of major change driven by environmental and technological developments but to succeed it has to take its workforce with it."