It has been a topsy-turvy couple of weeks for the UK car industry. One minute, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals the best UK car sales growth for a decade, the next, Honda announces 800 redundancies. But it all seems to have come out in the wash, as Jaguar Land Rover has topped up the industry again with another 800 jobs, adding to the 6,000 it already employs in Solihull.
Just last week, it announced that it sold 358,000 cars in 2012, a 30% increase on the previous year, and the highest number it has ever achieved in a single 12 month period. It’s no surprise really, given how well the firm is doing by exploiting overseas markets.
JLR is owned by India’s Tata, giving it good inroads into emerging markets such as China, where last year it sold 72,000 vehicles, a 70% increase on the previous year. But even without the fast-growing economies, unlike some other carmakers, the firm is also enjoying healthy growth in depressed western economies such as the UK (19% growth), and the US (11% growth).
The firm has enjoyed near-meteoric growth in recent times, having taken on 8,000 new staff over the last two years (which takes the total to 25,000 globally). That investment has cost somewhere in the region of £2bn and is designed to deal with the growth in markets beyond Europe.
It’s worth noting that the government’s Regional Growth Fund is supporting 200 of the new 800 jobs. Those posts will run for a year, and may be converted to full time contracts if the market conditions remain strong enough.
Meanwhile, both BMW and Volkswagen have announced record sales for 2012. Volkswagen announced on Monday that it sold just over 9 million cars in 2012, up 11% on the previous year. Unfortunately, it doesn't attribute much of that growth to Europe, where sales fell 6.5%.