Decision to invest £370m in West Midlands plant comes days after Honda cut jobs in Swindon
Britain’s car-making industry, stung by the loss of 800 jobs in Swindon last week, is to receive a boost from Jaguar Land Rover, which is to create jobs in Solihull.
The announcement of the decision to put £370m of investment and 800 additional roles into the West Midlands plant was timed to coincide with the annual Detroit motor show, where the Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover boasted of record-breaking sales.
Unlike Honda, which blamed the eurozone crisis for the axing of jobs last week, Jaguar Land Rover said it was expanding on the back of demand from China, Russia and the US.
“Looking ahead to 2013, we are continuing to invest in our business to support our ambitious plans for growth and we will be introducing eight new or refreshed products throughout the year,” said Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover’s director of group sales operations.
“2012 has been a strong year for Jaguar Land Rover with record-breaking sales performance globally. All of our key markets saw strong progress, with demand for our premium vehicles setting new records in a very competitive environment.”
The top five markets were China, the UK, the US, Russia and Italy; they accounted for 65% of the record sales of 357,773 vehicles. China, where it has started making vehicles for the first time in a joint venture with domestic producer Chery, is now the largest market, up 70%.
More than 200 of the new jobs in the West Midlands factory are being supported by the government’s regional growth fund, which has awarded £80m to the operation, owned by India’s Tata industrial group, which paid Ford £1.1bn for the then struggling business in 2008.
About people 6,000 are already employed in Solihull, where production started in 1948 and where the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Land Rover Defender and Discovery are all made.
When Japan’s Honda cut 800 jobs in Swindon, where it makes Civic, Jazz and CR-V models, it blamed a 1m-unit decline in the European car market caused by the eurozone crisis. They were the first jobs cut in the UK by Honda since it opened its factory in 1992.
But while sales of cars in France and Spain are at their lowest levels in 15 years, data earlier this month showed that sales in the UK had recorded their largest year-on-year increase since 2001 and volume of sales was the highest since 2008.