This is partly to do with the rip-roaring success of JLR’s latest edition, the Evoque - a sort of mini-sports utility vehicle, which has had nearly 60,000 orders since its launch late last year. And it’s not its only recruitment drive, either: in November, it began recruiting another 1,000 workers for its plant in Solihull, while it recently started the construction of a £355m engine plant in Wolverhampton, which should create a few hundred more jobs.
JLR isn’t the only car manufacturer doing rather well at the moment: recently, Toyota and Honda both announced that they’re increasing production at their plants in the UK, and last week Nissan said it was planning to invest £125m in its Sunderland factory to build its new hatchback, the (rather ridiculously-named) ‘Invitation’, from mid-2013, which is expected to create another 400 jobs.
The sudden upsurge in car manufacturing has been caused by huge demand from the burgeoning middle classes in China and India. Although that’s not necessarily across the board - General Motors has remained tight-lipped about what will become of its Vauxhall plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, which have a surplus capacity of about 20%. It’s reviewing its lossmaking European operation at the moment, so no doubt we’ll find out what’s to become of them soon.
Nevertheless, Vince Cable seems happy. ‘Today’s announcement is further evidence of the strength of the UK automotive and will also have a positive impact on growth in local supply chains,’ he said. And with unemployment figures at a seventeen-year high of 2.67 million, we need all the good news we can get...