Land Rover to boost output at Solihull

Click to follow

Land Rover, the four-wheel drive manufacturer owned by Ford of the US, is aiming to return to profitability this year with the help of a 15 per cent increase in production at its Solihull plant in the Midlands.

Land Rover, the four-wheel drive manufacturer owned by Ford of the US, is aiming to return to profitability this year with the help of a 15 per cent increase in production at its Solihull plant in the Midlands.

Joe Greenwell, the chairman and chief executive of Land Rover and Jaguar, cautioned, however, that the two brands faced "significant headwinds" in the shape of the very weak dollar and rising raw material prices. "We will manage production with care and will not overproduce. It is important not to damage the residual values of second-hand Land Rovers and Jaguars or do anything which would damage either brand," he said.

The increase in Land Rover production will take Solihull's output this year to about 190,000 and follows the launch of the new Discovery last year and a new sports version of the Range Rover. But Mr Greenwell said the most important task was to improve quality standards at Land Rover. Its parent company, Ford, has set it a target of achieving Jaguar levels of quality in three years and world class quality standards in five.

A return to break-even at Jaguar, which exports 40 per cent of production to the US, is not expected until 2007. Mr Greenwell said that with the dollar trading at more than $1.90 to the pound, the environment was "very tough" and Jaguar's return to profitability had been made even harder by the steep rise in the cost of raw materials.

Jaguar announced last year the closure of its Browns Lane plant in Coventry and abandoned plans to increase car production to 200,000 units a year. The closure will allow Jaguar to concentrate production on the Castle Bromwich facility in Birmingham and the Halewood plant on Merseyside.

Mr Greenwell reiterated that neither Jaguar nor Land Rover had plans "at this point" to shift production to the US, although he refused to rule out such a move in the future.

Meanwhile, BMW announced plans for two new models - a "space functional" car to be made in Germany and a coupé-style car to be built in the US.

Comments