JLR drives Coventry to become “Smart Motor City”

Posted on 21 Apr 2016 by Jonny Williamson

Two major investments from Jaguar Land Rover to create world class facilities are expected to help revive Coventry’s “Smart Motor City” heritage.

Daimler Motor Company may have manufactured the first British motor car at Coventry back in 1897, but Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) ambitious expansion plans are keeping the city at the heart of the nation’s automotive manufacturing industry today.

Jaguar Land Rover JLR
Jaguar Land Rover directly employs more than 36,000 in the UK, approximately 240,000 indirectly.

The city is tipped to be vital to the future of the UK’s economic success as it once again becomes known as the country’s Smart Motor City, driven largely by the significant growth of JLR since it was bought by Tata in 2008.

Overseen by Ratan Tata’s leadership and vision, followed by the support of Cyrus Mistry over the past three years, the company has more than doubled its sales and employment, and tripled its turnover.

In 2010, the company employed more than 16,300 people, by 2016 the figure has grown to close to 40,000 people globally – over 36,000 directly in the UK, approximately 240,000 indirectly.

The new development at JLR’s HQ in Whitley is down to the imagination of Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of JLR, who has a vision to develop Coventry, and its neighbours, into a Smart Motor City.

Expansion of JLR’s Whitley HQ

The investment in its Whitley expansion plans is likely to top half a billion pounds, and has the potential to introduce more than £200m a year into the local economy through additional employment and spending.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya and Dr Ralf Speth (2)
Professor Lord Bhattacharyya and Dr Ralf Speth.

Around 5,600 people are currently employed at the site – the latest plans could boost this figure by up to 2,000 more. Five hundred construction jobs alone will be needed over the coming five years to support the ambitious expansion, with a direct investment in infrastructure and construction of more than £150m.

The advanced developments in buildings, investment in the latest innovative technology, coupled with the improved transport connections, including high-speed rail – harmonise with the latest technology advancements that are being developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre, at the University of Warwick.

This infrastructure and focus on advanced manufacturing puts Coventry, and the sub regions, at the forefront to support the future needs of car production.

It’s not only engineers, designers and construction workers who are expected to benefit from JLR’s investment plans. Growth at Whitley will see Tier 1 suppliers move to the site, bringing more jobs and opportunities for local people.

The company is the largest UK investor in R&D in the manufacturing sector and is in the global top 100 for R&D spend; investing more than £3bn last year alone.

National Automotive Innovation Centre

national automotive innovation centre
The National Automotive Innovation Centre will foster collaboration, cohesion and cross-fertilisation of knowledge.

In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover will move parts of its early stage R&D to the National Automotive Innovation Centre, which is a £150m investment and a long-term commitment between JLR; Tata Motors European Technical Centre; WMG, and the University of Warwick – it’s the biggest private investment on a university campus.

The Centre will create an environment to foster collaboration, cohesion and cross-fertilisation of knowledge. Academic and industrial R&D teams including many suppliers will work together using advanced equipment and facilities to develop innovative designs, technologies and processes.

The young people of the region will have a vital role to play in Jaguar Land Rover’s future.  Last year 600 graduates and apprentices joined the company, and JLR’s strong links with local schools has seen it host visits for 20,000 young people a year on work-related education programmes.

In 2015, it developed the Jaguar Land Rover Academy for lifelong learning, which gives all staff the opportunity to develop their skills in any area of the business. It is also a key supporter of both the WMG Academy for Young Engineers, in Coventry and Solihull, which is a university technical college providing opportunities for 14 – 18 year olds to develop engineering skills.