By Simon Jack |BBC News|
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will announce later today an investment worth hundreds of millions of pounds in electric vehicle-making.
The money will prepare its Castle Bromwich plant for building electric cars.
A six-week shutdown will be needed, but the move is expected to secure hundreds of jobs at the Birmingham site.
It will mean the end to the XJ luxury car in its petrol- and diesel-burning form, which has been made since 1968.
The news follows January’s announcement, where the firm said it would cut 4,500 jobs, with the majority coming from the UK.
That followed 1,500 jobs lost in 2018.
Today’s decision will understandably be seized upon by those who have been sceptical about the dire Brexit warnings emanating from some of the UK’s biggest manufacturers.
JLR has issued some of the shrillest alarms over the threat to investment of a no-deal Brexit and some will think they have cried wolf.
But company insiders say their decisions are driven by product cycles and their heavy historical reliance on diesel meant they had to act with urgency – and although they do have assembly plants in other countries, their top engineers and managers are based here in the UK.
Although this is good news, the UK is attracting a tiny fraction of the global investment in electric cars.
No deal, no Astra
VW alone is investing £70bn in Europe, the US and China. Investment in the UK car industry fell 46.5% to £588.6m last year from £1.1bn in 2017.
A no-deal Brexit would see new tariffs imposed on components and parts moving between the EU and the UK.
JLR are essentially saying they had no choice. Others do.
Vauxhall’s parent company was explicit with the conditions it applied to its decision to invest in making the next generation Astra at Ellesmere Port. No deal means no Astra.
Government and industry sources concede that it is frustrating that at the very moment when the car industry is redrawing its manufacturing map of the world, Brexit uncertainty means the UK is punching substantially below its weight.