Tata Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) on Friday unveiled major investment plans for the production of its new electric car models in the UK.
Britain’s largest automotive manufacturer said its new range of electrified vehicles will be built at its Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands region of England, safeguarding thousands of jobs.
“We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, Electronic Drive Units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands,” said Prof Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover.
“The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK,” he said.
JLR, which has not put a figure to the investment, said the latest plans mark the next significant step in delivering on the company’s commitment to offer customers electrified options for all new Jaguar and Land Rover models from 2020.
However, the company stressed that while the expansion of an electrified vehicle line-up will offer greater choice, increased consumer take-up remains a challenge.
Speth added: “Convenience and affordability are the two key enablers to drive the uptake of electric vehicles to the levels that we all need. Charging should be as easy as re-fuelling a conventional vehicle.”
“Affordability will only be achieved if we make batteries here in the UK, close to vehicle production, to avoid the cost and safety risk of importing from abroad.The UK has the raw materials, scientific research in our universities and an existing supplier base to put the UK at the leading edge of mobility and job creation.”
The Tata Group company, which has recently been battling auto industry headwinds as some of its global markets like China weaken, called on the UK government and industry to work together to bring giga-scale battery production to Britain.
This would build on the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and the government’s Faraday Challenge, essential for next generation battery technology to create smaller, denser, cheaper batteries.
The company said these critical steps will also support and grow the existing supply chain, making the UK less dependent on essential materials sourced abroad today.
“Together, these initiatives enable battery production and demand for automotive companies, to attract future giga-scale factories to the UK,” JLR noted.
The first new electric car to be produced at the plant will be Jaguar’s flagship luxury saloon, the XJ.
JLR has not announced when it will launch the battery version of the XJ, but it will replace the petrol and diesel versions which have been made since 1968. The news was confirmed to workers at Castle Bromwich as production of the current XJ came to an end.
“Credited with pioneering a range of industry-first innovations during its 50 years of production, the new XJ will build on the characteristics synonymous with its predecessors – beautiful design, intelligent performance and revered luxury,” a JLR statement said.
The new all-electric model will be created by the same expert team of designers and product development specialists responsible for delivering the world’s first premium electric SUV, and 2019 World Car of the Year, the Jaguar I-PACE.
In January the company had confirmed plans to bring battery and Electric Drive Unit (EDU) assembly to the Midlands with investment in new and existing facilities.
These investments have been anticipated in the company’s previously communicated capital investment plans, JLR noted.
“The new Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, operational in 2020, will be the most innovative and technologically advanced in the UK with an installed capacity of 150,000 units. Together with the Wolverhampton Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), home of Jaguar Land Rover’s global EDU production, these facilities will power the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover models,” JLR said.
It said the plan is for an “extensive” transformation of Castle Bromwich to become the UK’s first premium electrified vehicle plant.
Later this month, work will begin to commence the installation of all-new facilities and technologies required to support Jaguar Land Rover’s next-generation Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA).
Designed and engineered in-house, MLA enables flexible production of clean efficient diesel and petrol vehicles alongside full electric and hybrid models. (PTI)