Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

SAN FRANCISCO – There’s at least one U.S. dealer happy with the prospect of new ownership for Jaguar Cars, expected to be sold by parent Ford Motor Co. to India-based Tata Motors Ltd. by the end of the first quarter.

“(Tata) is a large industrial conglomerate with a huge supply of cash,” dealer David Stephens tells Ward’s at the annual National Automobile Dealers Assn. conference here. “They understand the automobile business. They’re the predominant producer of commercial vehicles and trucks in India, and it’s a family-owned business that’s been around 150 years.

“These guys know what they’re doing, and they have the capital to infuse into the company. I think our future is going to be bright under this ownership.”

Stephens, president and CEO of Millennium Motor Cars in Plano, TX, is Jaguar’s first African-American dealer.

Prior to opening his dealership in 1999, Stephens spent 13 years working for Ford in various sales positions, including serving as merchandising and distribution manager for Lincoln-Mercury in the Dallas region.

Stephens says he feels good about Ford’s future under President and CEO Alan Mulally, calling him a “real quick learner.

“He’s put some things into motion that I think will put Ford back into position to get somewhere near where they were a few years ago,” he says. “Ford’s a great company. Unfortunately, we lost our way just a little bit.”

Stephens says his dealership largely depends on used-vehicle sales to stay afloat, but he is optimistic about new products coming from the iconic British make.

“I’m excited about the new car we have coming out, the XF. It’s absolutely stunning and drives like dream.

“Obviously, we (Jaguar) haven’t done as well as we’d like compared to where we were a few years ago, but with the new XF and the replacement for the XJ coming, we’ll do well.”

bpope@wardsauto.com