Jaguar announces massive electric car plant will be created in the UK
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The UK’s largest auto-manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it will build electric vehicles in the country, safeguarding thousands of jobs in a sector that has suffered in recent years from concerns over the impact of Brexit.
The firm is planning to offer an electrified option to all of its new models from 2020 as it seeks to move away from its reliance on diesel vehicles, which are becoming increasingly unpopular with buyers.
JLR, which built 30 per cent of Britain's 1.5 million cars last year, will make a range of electrified vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in central England, beginning with its luxury saloon, the XJ. The plant will close for six weeks so that new equipment can be installed.
UK car manufacturing has been on the decline recently, with an 18.2 per cent fall year-on-year this January, reflecting falling confidence from the industry and consumers amid the political turmoil around Brexit.
A body representing the UK’s car industry later issued a plea to the next Prime Minister not to lead the country out of the European Union (EU) without a deal due to the dire effect it will have on the industry.
The Jaguar investment follows an agreement for employees to work a four-day week as part of restructuring plans. The plant, which is located near Birmingham, employs around 2,500 workers.
Batteries for the new electric XJ will be made in Hams Hall, Warwickshire, while the electric motors will be manufactured at JLR’s engine plant near Wolverhampton.
Dr Ralph Speth, chief executive of JLR, said: “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.”
“We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, electronic drive units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands.”
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s announcement is a vote of confidence in the UK automotive industry, protecting thousands of skilled jobs. It reflects our determination for the UK to be at the forefront of the development and manufacturing of the next generation of electric vehicles.
“The Government has made a big strategic choice in its industrial strategy to be a leading force in the move to electric vehicles, investing and building on our research strengths in the Faraday Challenge and the Battery Industrialisation Centre. We are now perfectly placed to host a gigafactory and we are determined to realise that ambition.
“JLR’s announcement recognises the strength of the excellent workforce at Castle Bromwich and acknowledges the efforts of many parties, including the Government and the mayor, Andy Street, to invest and build a sustainable future in the region for advanced manufacturing, safeguarding jobs and skills.”
Unite union assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Today’s trailblazing announcement is testament to the skill and hard work of Unite members and shop stewards. 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.
“This is a proud day for our members and Jaguar Land Rover. 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.”
In March this year, JLR was forced to recall 44,000 of its vehicles in the UK after they were found to emit more carbon dioxide than expected.
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