Hundreds of jobs will be shelved in the Midlands after Land Rover today announced plans to move Discovery production to its new Slovakian plant early next year.
The Solihull plant employs 10,000 people and will be cleared out to make way for a new range of electric models in the early part of the next decade which will use a multi-mode platform for Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, so jobs are expected to be created to make them.
The JLR company owned by India’s Tata Motors has been struggling with falling sales after the nose-dive in diesel registrations in Britain and mounting resistance in European countries where authorities are making it expensive to drive them in urban areas. Last month Land Rover sales were down a little over 10% but there’s concern over the declining trend continuing, particularly for diesels which make up most of its sales.
In a statement this afternoon, Land Rover said, “The potential losses of some agency employed staff in the UK is a tough one but forms part of our long-term manufacturing strategy as we transform our business globally.”
The move will save Land Rover several thousand pounds on each vehicle as labour rates are lower in Slovakia the firm’s Chief Finance Officer Ken Gregor said last year, but whether these savings will be passed onto customers of the new models to make them more competitive remains to be seen.
The announcement today comes months after it said about 1,000 agency jobs would go because of falling UK demand and sales and it also blamed Brexit for hitting demand in Europe’s second-largest autos market, where demand fell 6 per cent last year.
It is already using a contract builder in Austria to assemble the Jaguar E-Pace and first electric I-Pace SUVs and the new factory in Nitra, Slovakia will be able to produce 300,000 vehicles annually.
The UK plants’ built just over 530,000 vehicles last year at three production facilities in Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood and also has a separate engine site in the West Midlands and Gaydon headquarters, employing roughly 40,000 people in total.
It’s V6 and V8 petrol engines manufacturing contract with Ford Bridgend Engine Plant is due to end next year after nearly 30 years.