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JLR engines in China

On the prowl

London, June 12: Jaguar Land Rover is hatching plans to build an engine-making plant alongside its car assembly factory near Shanghai, which opens this year.

In the latest signal that the future of Britain’s largest automotive employer is in the world’s second-largest economy, Jaguar Land Rover says that, once its new engine plant in Wolverhampton goes into production next year, it will take the lessons from that 500-million project and apply them in China. Speaking to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in London, Ian Harnett, Jaguar Land Rover’s purchasing chief, said, “We could build an engine plant in China. There is an opportunity within the existing footprint of the factory (at present under construction to build cars).”

Referring to Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to take its engine making back in-house with the creation of its Wolverhampton factory, Harnett said, “We have not made engines for a long time. The focus is on Wolverhampton but we can then look at the transfer of that knowledge and expertise.”

Harnett played down fears that moving car and engine production abroad would hit Jaguar Land Rover jobs in England, saying overseas output would be in addition to production from its West Midlands and Merseyside plants rather than replacing it.

The Changshu plant, near Shanghai, is expected to produce versions of the Range Rover Evoque and larger Jaguar models for the Chinese market with Chery, its partner in the country, under contracts in which it has committed to increasing local components in its China-built cars. In time this will amount to up to 60 per cent per vehicle. Customers in China account for about a quarter of Jaguar Land Rover’s annual 400,000 output. “We are now behaving like a truly global car maker,” said Harnett, adding that it is building Jaguar XFs and Land Rover Freelanders in India and is advancing plans to build a factory in Brazil.

Jaguar Land Rover’s expansion into China came as the SMMT revealed that the UK automotive industry had doubled the value of its exports in a decade to 24.8 billion.

 
 
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