JLR to invest heavily into electric cars
Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to invest around £1 billion into assembling a range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich site in the West Midlands.
The news comes in the aftermath of a report which revealed that sales of low emission cars had fallen for the first time in over two years over June 2019, a matter which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders labelled a “grave concern”.
JLR itself had announced plans in January 2019 to offload 4,500 jobs, after 1,500 were slashed over 2018.
However, the firm now says that its investment in low emission vehicles will secure the jobs of the 2,700 workers at the Castle Bromwich site in Birmingham, with one of the major projects to be the production of an electric model of the Jaguar XJ.
No release date is in the pipeline yet for the electric Jaguar XJ model which will eventually replace its petrol and diesel counterparts.
JLR chief executive Professor Ralf Speth declared that electric cars are the “future” of the industry and that the firm is “committed” to contributing toward the next generation of greener vehicles.
Speth 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.”
Despite a slowdown in the car industry amid Brexit-related uncertainty, JLR are right to act by investing since its vehicle range is in need of modernisation, according to industry guru, David Bailey.
Bailey, a professor of business economics at the Birmingham Business School told the BBC that: “Given where it is in its product cycle it [JLR] had to make this decision. 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”.
Bailey also believes that the Castle Bromwich site would “effectively die” without the investment pledge.
Compared with 2017, investment in the automotive industry in the UK slumped by 47 per cent, with much investment heading elsewhere due to waning confidence, with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU still to be finalised.
Should the UK leave the bloc without a deal, key components and parts moving between the UK and EU states would be tariffed.
Meanwhile, Vauxhall’s parent company had announced that in a no-deal scenario, it will be unable to manufacture the next generation model of the Vauxhall Astra at its base in Ellesmere Port.
The SMMT believes that the low emission vehicle market has been specifically hit by a lack of clarity in government policies and the withdrawal of incentives such as subsidies.
However, the government believes that its focus on low emission vehicles is producing results, with registrations of battery electric vehicles up by more than 60 per cent in 2019 compared with last year.