Jaguar Land Rover is preparing to make a major investment in advanced manufacturing in the UK.
Contradicting recent press reports that Indian parent company was considering selling the luxury car business it bought from Ford in 2008, sources close to the company and the government told the BBC that news of fresh investment in the UK was imminent.
When announced, this news will be a welcome boost to the UK car industry which has seen a raft of bad news in recent weeks.
Diesel and China
Honda recently stunned the sector by announcing the closure of its Swindon plant in 2021 shortly after Nissan said it was reversing plans to build the Nissan X-Trail Sunderland.
- Honda set to close Swindon car plant
- Nissan investment U-turn
In January, Jaguar Land Rover itself announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs in the next two years. It pointed to the declining popularity of diesel engines which currently power nearly 90% of its range and a slump in sales in China which had been its most profitable market.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that sales of UK made cars fell 72% in the last month compared with a year earlier but sources at JLR told the BBC there were «green shoots of recovery» in the Chinese car market.
Efforts to forge better relations between JLR and its dealer network in China have also been stepped up.
Lord Battacharya tributes
The government hopes that the new investment will confirm the UK still has an important role to play in the company’s move to electric vehicles despite some existing model production being moved to Slovakia.
This news coincides with the death of Indian born Lord Kumar Battacharya, who founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group in the 1980s — a group of advanced engineering facilities clustered around Warwick University.
Many in the car industry are paying tribute to him and his legacy.
I’m told there are plans to mention Lord Battacharya’s pioneering role in UK manufacturing.
A close friend of both Tata Group’s Chairman Ratan Tata and JLR’s current chief executive, Ralf Speith, he is widely credited as instrumental in brokering Ford’s original sale of JLR to Tata.
The timing of the announcement has not been finalised but is expected in early March.