JLR electrifies UK motor industry hopes

Jaguar Land Rover has shrugged off Brexit fears with the announcement of a major investment - predicted to reach £1 billion – in the production of a range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands.

Jaguar in front of a stately home
In a boost to the nation's car industry, whose future has been clouded in uncertainty because of Brexit, the company announced it would build an electric version of its Jaguar XJ saloon at the factory on the outskirts of Birmingham.JLR, the UK's largest car maker, is owned by India's industrial giant, Tata. The latest investment will secure the future of about 2,500 company workers, plus countless thousands of others in the supply chain.Ralf Speth, JLR chief executive, 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."

New battery plant will build 150,000 units a year

The company has built a new battery assembly plant at Hams Hall, between Coventry and Birmingham, which will be capable of making 150,000 units a year. However, JLR will have to import battery cells from Asia because there is currently no major manufacturer in the UK.The situation prompted the company to call for the creation of a ‘giga-factory’ in Britain to meet the future need for large volumes of battery cells.“Affordability will only be achieved if we make batteries here in the UK, close to vehicle production, to avoid the cost and safety risk of importing from abroad," Dr Speth said.“The UK has the raw materials, scientific research in our universities and an existing supplier base to put the UK at the leading edge of mobility and job creation.”

Investment welcomed by government and trade unions

News of the investment was welcomed by both the government and the trade unions. 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 giga-factory 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."

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Steve Turner, of the Unite union, added, "Today's trailblazing announcement is testament to the skill and hard work of Unite members and shop stewards.

Castle Bromwich site a powerhouse of the regional economy

"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."The announcement of the investment appeared to contradict earlier warnings from JLR that Brexit – particularly a no-deal departure – would threaten its UK investment.However, David Bailey, a professor of business economics at Birmingham Business School, told the BBC that JLR could not wait to see the outcome of Brexit as it needed to update its range of vehicles."Given where it is in its product lifecycle, (JLR) has to make this decision," he said. "The capacity is at Castle Bromwich and there's research and development nearby as well, so they've basically run out of time on this decision."Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory