On the prowl
London, March 2: Jaguar Land Rover is to pump £100 million into a new factory in Saudi Arabia that will make 100,000 cars a year to meet the booming demand in West Asia.
The Midlands-based luxury car maker is close to signing a deal with the Saudi government to build an assembly factory in the east of the country. The plant will initially make a new version of its popular Land Rover Discovery and is eventually expected to employ 4,000-5,000 staff.
It will be Jaguar Land Rover’s third big foreign expansion after deals to open factories in China and Brazil.
The Saudi government is also expected to pour investment into the plant as it seeks to develop its motor industry. The company is likely to begin by assembling cars from components made in Britain, and progress towards taking more parts from Saudi companies.
The expansion in West Asia will be another step in the car maker’s stellar rise since being rescued by the Tata group in 2008. The industrial conglomerate paid Ford £1.15 billion for the luxury marques.
The company’s factories in the Midlands and Merseyside are bulging with work. A new £500-million engine plant in the West Midlands will begin production next year.
Jaguar confirmed a £240-million agreement late last year to build a factory in Rio de Janeiro, and is also opening a plant in China in a £1-billion joint venture with Chinese car maker Chery.
Jaguar Land Rover, which exports about 85 per cent of its cars, sold a record 425,006 vehicles in 2013, up 19 per cent on a year earlier, setting new sales records in 38 markets and recording strong growth across all the big regions.
Jaguar sales leapt 42 per cent to 76,668 vehicles and Land Rover sales surged 15 per cent to 348,338. Demand was driven by its new Jaguar F-Type sports car, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
Profits between October and December more than doubled to £842 million on a year earlier.
Jaguar Land Rover was lured to Saudi Arabia by abundant aluminium and energy resources, signing a letter of intent with the kingdom in late 2012 to open a factory.