Jaguar Land Rover to build electric cars in UK despite Brexit fears

Britain’s largest vehicle maker commits to building zero-emissions models at Birmingham site, safeguarding thousands of jobs

Ben Chapman
Friday 05 July 2019 13:31
The move will deliver a huge boost to the industry after a series of setbacks in recent months
The move will deliver a huge boost to the industry after a series of setbacks in recent months

Jaguar Land Rover will invest hundreds of millions of pounds in electric vehicle production at its plant in Castle Bromwich, a suburb of Birmingham.

Britain’s largest car maker will produce an electric version of the Jaguar XJ at the factory, helping to secure 2,700 jobs – a major boost for an industry that has been hit hard by uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

“The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK,” said Ralf Speth, JLR’s chief executive.

JLR announced in January that it would cut 4,500 jobs, mostly in the UK, adding to 1,500 redundancies in 2018.

The company, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, has previously warned that a no-deal Brexit could cost it up to £1.2bn a year.

JLR told Sky News: “We are making this investment because the ongoing Brexit uncertainty has left us with no choice, we had to act, for our employees and our business.

“We are committed to the UK as our home and will fight to stay here but we need the right deal.

“We will continue to work with government to secure a deal that supports business.”

In May, JLR reported a £3.6bn annual loss after writing down the value of its business in the face of plummeting demand in China, Brexit and uncertainty about the future regulation of diesel-fuelled vehicles.

The company called on the government and industry to work together to bring large-scale battery production to the country.

JLR plans to offer electric versions of the whole range of Jaguar and Land Rover models by 2020.

It previously announced that it will open a battery-making site in the Midlands next year.

Greg Clark, the business secretary, hailed the news as a “vote of confidence in the UK automotive industry”.

“It reflects our determination for the UK to be at the forefront of the development and manufacturing of the next generation of electric vehicles,” he said.

The UK’s largest union also welcomed the announcement.

Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant general secretary, said: “Not only is it a fantastic boost to the UK car industry, but it ensures that Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich site remains a powerhouse of the regional economy, providing a living for thousands of workers and supporting many more in the supply chain.

“The government and Theresa May’s replacement as prime minister must make sure it is not the last for the UK’s world-beating car workers and their families.”

UK car sales fell 15.5 per cent in the year to May – the 12th successive month of contraction in the industry.

Factories built 116,035 new vehicles in May, 21,239 fewer than a year earlier.

Rebecca Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said JLR’s announcement offered a “ray of hope” for the UK car industry.

“However, the fact remains that overall investment in UK automotive is plummeting and global players are choosing to invest in electrification elsewhere,” she added.

“The government must urgently work with industry and trade unions to ensure this investment from JLR is a model to other manufacturers and not an exception.”

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