It's the dawn of a new era at Jaguar Cars and Land Rover, as Ford Motor Co. inks a definitive agreement to sell the storied British marques to India's Tata Motors Ltd. for $2.3 billion.

The production of both Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles will continue in the U.K., the auto makers say. Earlier media reports suggested Tata might move some production to India, which was a point of contention among U.K. labor unions.

Under conditions of the agreement, Ford will contribute about $600 million to the Jaguar and Land Rover pension funds at the deal's closing, which is expected to occur by the end of the second quarter. The closing is subject to customary conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory approvals, Ford says.

Jaguar and Land Rover have been on the block since Ford revealed last June it was reviewing options for the two marques in order to fund its North American turnaround strategy, including pouring more resources into its core Blue Oval brand. Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 for $2.5 billion and Land Rover in 2000 for $2.7 billion.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally says the brands have a bright future under Tata. “We are confident that they are leaving our fold with the products, plan and team to continue to thrive under Tata's stewardship.

Ford says it will continue to supply the two brands with powertrains, stampings and other components, in addition to a variety of technologies, such as environmental and platform technologies.

Additionally, it will provide engineering support, including research and development, information technology, accounting and other services.

Ford does not disclose the length of time it will assist Tata, saying only the forms of support will be for “differing periods.”

The auto maker's captive credit arm, Ford Motor Credit Co., will continue to provide financing for Jaguar and Land Rover dealers and customers during the transitional period, which Ford says “can vary by market” and last up to a year.

Ford and Tata say they don't “anticipate any significant changes” to the terms of employment of Jaguar and Land Rover workers once the deal is completed.

Tata is India's largest auto maker, with revenues of $7.2 billion in 2006-2007, the company says, noting there currently are more than 4 million Tata vehicles in operation in India.

Proposed Jaguar-Land Rover Deal to Include Access to Ford Engines