India’s Tata Motors has said it is looking into the viability of establishing an automotive assembly line at Ras al-Khair in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Tata Motors’ Chairman Ratan Tata was quoted in an Indian car magazine as saying his company would be interested in setting up an operation for its Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) brands near to Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and the US’ Alcoa’s $10.8bn aluminium complex.

When contacted by MEED, Tata Motors refused to confirm or deny the comments from its chairman that the company is looking at building an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia. 

“We look at other opportunities on an ongoing basis,” said a spokesman by email. “We do not comment on these matters publicly.  We have nothing further to say.”

In the kingdom, industry sources say they were not surprised that automotive companies were now starting to consider Saudi Arabia as an attractive option for setting up operations.

“Riyadh has been looking to attract automotive manufacturers for some time now, so sooner or later the conditions are going to be feasible for one to make the decision to have some operations in the kingdom,” says an industry source. “I personally don’t believe Tata would build Jaguars or Range Rovers in Saudi Arabia, but instead will make components that can be partly assembled in the kingdom before being shipped elsewhere.”

Maaden and Alcoa expect aluminium production to commence at Ras al-Khair in 2013.