The car industry has kept its foot on the gas over the last year, and now, Jaguar Land Rover has announced that its new Jaguar XF Sportbrake estate car and several other models will be produced at its existing Castle Bromwich plant. The decision will add 1,100 new posts to the roster of 8,000 it has hired over the last two years.
In an encouraging sign that the firm is making this investment part of its long term plan, CEO Ralf Speth said: ‘These new models will attract new customers to the brand as we look to expand our global reach and further enhance our position in the market.’ Manufacturers everywhere are working hard to get traction in the rapid-growth economies such as India, China and Brazil, and Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to do this from their Midlands base could well mean even more UK jobs in the future.
Economic woes are not really the order of the day for JLR. In its latest financial results (for the 2011-12 fiscal year), the firm achieved record profits of £1.5bn, £392m more than the previous year. It is the largest car-manufacturing employer in the UK already, and the vast majority of its products are exported (around 80%), so it is by no means reliant on the UK market for future growth. Probably a good thing given we’re now in our third quarter of the new recession…
The company’s investment in the UK is a strong one regardless of the new jobs. Just a few weeks ago, it announced plans to spend £1m with UK manufacturers for Ranger Rover Evoque components, and last year it awarded £2bn worth of contracts to around 40 UK suppliers. Such significant investment can only reflect the good reputation that our small manufacturing industry has managed to maintain.
Aside from Jaguar Land Rover, the sector has enjoyed several boosts over the past few months. General Motors last month announced it will use its Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant as the location for the new Vauxhall Astra. The move saves 2,100 existing jobs (which were at risk), and creates 700 new ones. And in May, more cars rolled off the production line than any other month since 2004, at around 141,000.
In other good employment news, the government has just announced plans to build a new assembly plant for intercity express trains in the north-east, creating around 700 jobs. The deal is worth £4.5bn and the scheme is expected to produce almost 100 trains for operation on the East coast and Great Western mainlines.
Long may the investment continue: we need at least one sector firing on all cylinders…