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Land Rover Discovery says Tata to UK
Slovakia to become home to Land Rover Discovery global production from 2019
14 Jun 2018
FIRST Brexit, and now Discovery.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has shocked fans of its oh-so-British large four-wheel-drive SUV by deciding to switch all global production of Discovery from its production home of almost 30 years, at Solihull, in the English West Midlands, to Slovakia by next year.
The news was quietly leaked to Bloomberg before being confirmed in a statement to other news outlets.
“The decision to move the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia and the potential losses of some agency employed staff in the UK is a tough one, but forms part of our long-term manufacturing strategy as we transform our business globally,” the statement said.
The BBC reports that the factory employs about 1800 agency staff in its workforce of 10,000. The company had already announced that 1000 agency staff would go, and now hundreds more are expected to be axed.
However, all is not lost for the 70-year-old Land Rover factory outside Birmingham: from 2020 it is destined to become the new home for new models – thought to be the next Range Rover and Range Rover Sport – as JLR ramps up electrification of powertrains.
JLR has confirmed Solihull will gain production of new models, saying: “This significant investment and technology upgrade in Solihull in order to accommodate our next-generation of flagship Land Rover models, and the refit of our Halewood plant for the next Evoque, is proof that we remain committed both to the UK and to transformation and growth.”
Owned by India’s Tata Motors since 2008, JLR had previously said it would split Discovery production between Solihull and its new Slovakian site at Nitra where it is gearing up to produce 150,000 vehicles a year with potential to expand to 300,000 units.
Announced in 2015, the Nitra factory is Land Rover’s first mass manufacturing plant outside of the UK.
The decision to concentrate Discovery in Slovakia has been blamed on falling sales due to a drop in demand for diesel vehicles across Britain and Europe.
British news reports suggest production of the new-generation Defender will also be switched to Slovakia where it and Discovery will benefit from lower production costs.
JLR has said the decision has nothing to do with Britain’s proposed departure from the European Union, but it previously warned that Brexit could impact its manufacturing operations.
The latest fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery was launched in Australia less than a year ago. This year, JLR Australia has sold 771 ‘Discos’, a whopping rise of 239 per cent over the same five months of last year when the previous model was in run-out.
JLR is already producing an all-electric SUV, the Jaguar I-Pace, in Britain, along with two Range Rover PHEVs – the Range Rover P400e and Range Rover Sport P400e.
The company has been late to electrification compared with some rivals, but is now pressing on with the technology to try to cut its fleet carbon-dioxide emissions to meet the European requirement for 95 grams of CO2 a kilometre by 2021.
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