Jaguar Land Rover plans to create 1,500 jobs and expand its Merseyside plant as UK automotive thwarts the negative industrial trend.
The Tata-owned car manufacturer has announced the expansion of its Halewood plant, guaranteeing the creation of hundreds of jobs, as orders pour in for the new Range Rover Evoque at the full-capacity plant.
As reported in The Daily Telegraph, sources close to the decision say that the company is exploring options to double to the size of the plant by developing on existing land. The total investment might amount to £100m but this figure was not confirmed.
The news comes as a welcome antidote to the general outlook for eurozone industrial output in 2012. Yesterday (Jan 2), research group Markit’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December hit 46.9, up slightly from November’s two-year nadir of 46.4. But it is still the fifth consecutive month of negative manufacturing growth in the eurozone.
Sales of JLR’s Evoque are up 30% year-on-year, driven largely by demand from Asia and, especially, China. Employees at Halewood were summoned back to work over the Christmas break for a special shift to satisfy the demand.
The expansion news follows confirmation in November that it will build a £335m engine plant in Wolverhampton, and will take on up to 1,000 new employees at Solihull. Such news contributed heavily to the automotive sector’s status as the biggest growth sub-sector in UK manufacturing in 2011, growing 10.5% according to EEF.
UK automotive is on a roll, with multi-million pound investments in production in the last six months at carmakers including Nissan, Toyota and BMW Mini, while construction equipment firms Caterpillar and JCB have also invested heavily in their sites. In December Honda announced the creation of 500 new jobs at its Swindon plant.
This conflicts starkly with the experiences of some neighbouring markets. French carmakers report a 29% plunge in sales in 2011, for example.
JLR is expected to make record profits in 2012 and the company is investing more than £1bn a year in research and development.