Should we be worried about Jaguar Land Rover moving production from the UK?

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The Queen out for a drive in her Defender

As part of plans to boost its worldwide production, Jaguar Land Rover has recently agreed to build a new plant in Slovakia. JLR have steadily unveiled plans to manufacture outside of Britain since being bought by Indian firm Tata, opening its first overseas manufacturing plant in China in October last year. Should we be worried about the iconic British brands future in the UK?

JLR have recently announced that it is to build a new plant in the western Slovak city of Nitra. Up to 300,000 vehicles a year could soon be built at the new factory. The model anticipated to be produced there is non-other than the new Defender. While this has not been confirmed by JLR, the first vehicles are expected to roll off the new production line in 2018 and this same year is also the one in which we expect the next-generation Defender is to appear in the dealerships. Coincidence?

The company have also said that as part of plans to bring production closer to major markets, the firm will open a plant in Brazil in 2016 and have signed a manufacturing partnership to build models in the Austrian city of Graz.

Tata bought the admittedly ailing British brand in 2008 and has more than doubled it’s profits in the past 4 years alone. However, it would seem that in less than 10 years of ownership Tata will have moved a significant proportion of the manufacturing overseas.

Personally, I feel it would be a real shame if the Defender model (or a derivative of it) was produced abroad, such is the iconic nature of it in British culture. Defenders have been made in the UK continuously for nearly 70 years, are said to be the most recognised vehicle in the world and are even a favourite of The Queen herself.

Like many of the once British brands now sold to foreign owners, we have little control over the destiny of Jaguar Land Rover. Tata, I am sure, will make the vehicles in whatever country is cheapest to produce them in, with little regard for heritage, tradition or [dare I say] British workers. If this is the start of JLR pulling out of the UK we have, I am afraid, no power to stop it.

Comments

  1. CASPER GORNIOK says:

    It is confirmed that the slovak plant will build the new Defender. I have flagged this up on my LinkedIn account and emailed my MP.

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  2. Sandra says:

    We were just looking at the new landrovers this weekend, as concidering replacing our freelander. May have to reconcider now as we buy local and british as much as possible.

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    • Sandra – I suspect you will be able to buy a British made Land Rover for many years yet.

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  3. Brent says:

    I drive an XF which is a great car but I won’t be buying one made outside the UK

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  4. Terry Sullivan says:

    I doubt very much that the commitment of British workers/engineers will be reflected in foreign, cut price manufacturing bases and hence, quality is bound to give way to cheapness & bigger profits. Answer? Don’t buy if this happens. In my view if one can’t buy a good prestige British made car then look towards Germany or Italy (ok so Italian engineering can at times be problematic!) for example. At least they are, for the most part, well engineered Thorobreds at that end of the market. I was thinking of buying Jaguar but am now thinking again thanks to this helpful article.

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  5. Liz G says:

    According to Wikipedia, VW has manufacturing plants in 21 countries, and your Audi is theoretically as likely to come from Hungary, Belgium, India, China, Brazil, Russia or Spain as Germany. Building plants in other countries not only reduces raw material transportation costs, but also takes the finished product closer to market – transporting finished vehicles is a MASSIVE cost in itself (as well as the environmental costs or logistics), and has significant on-costs in terms of damage, insurance, risk of loss etc… around 80% of the JLR production is exported.
    Actually quality will improve as local plants can take care of local issues faster and not be bogged down in logistics issues.
    Why purchase a German car (UK is one location VW do not manufacture (except Bentley)) instead of one which IS actually built here (and many of the components are as well)?
    Tata has invested hundreds of millions in the UK over the past few years, with more commitments on the way – globalisation is necessary and sensible in automotive production.

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    • admin says:

      Hi Liz,

      While I agree that plants supplying to local markets is a good idea that is seems to be only part of what is going on here. The Plant in Slovakia will [in all likelihood] be supplying the new Defender not just to a local market but importing them into the UK, and indeed the world. Not quote the local markets model JLR claim.

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  6. Chris says:

    If this means we lose British jobs we should be very worried .We can’t keep letting our industries go abroad especially those with British names. Jaguar have been advertising for apprentices so I hope they keep their factory here.

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  7. Phil Huke says:

    This is just the thin edge of the wedge, manufactures will go to the cheapest option. It’s not only the jobs that are at stake, the government also lose out on tax payments, then wonder why there is no money for pensions, NHS, roads etc!

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  8. Jaguar Land Rover has made massive investments in the UK. The new engine plant in Wolverhampton for instance will be making 800,000 engines a year when full production is on stream. The Chinese and Indian plants are built to supply their home markets. The Slovakian plant with lower labour costs will build the more utilitarian vehicles which are price sensitive. The design and engineering of JLR vehicles and the bulk of production will continue to take place in the UK. JLR vehicle production has quadrupled since Tata bought the company from Ford in 2008. A real example of succesful engineering and manufacturing in the UK.

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