1. ITV Report

Jaguar confirms plans to build range of electric cars in UK

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

Jaguar Land Rover is to build a range of electric cars in the UK, safeguarding thousands of jobs and delivering a huge boost to the industry after a series of setbacks in recent months.

Investment will be made at the firm’s factory in Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, with other sites and supply companies benefiting from the development.

However the chief executive of the company refused to rule out further job losses in the future, adding he would not "promise anything which at the end of the day I could not keep".

However today's announcement that an all-electric version of the Jaguar XJ sedan replacement was welcome news to those in the automotive industry.

The cars will be built at the Castle Bromwich plant Credit: Rui Vieira/PA

The cars will be produced at JLR's Castle Bromwich near Birmingham. Production at the plant has been stopped for six weeks while the necessary equipment for making electric cars is fitted.

The investment follows an agreement for employees to work a four-day week as part of restructuring plans.

The plant, near the M6 in Birmingham, employs around 2,500 workers.

Batteries for the new electric XJ will be made in Hams Hall, Warwickshire, while the electric motors will be manufactured at JLR’s engine plant near Wolverhampton.

Dr Ralph Speth, chief executive of JLR, said: “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.”

Yet Mr Speth refused to rule out further job losses at plants in the UK.

Speaking to ITV News today, Ralf Speth said he would not "promise anything which at the end of the day I could not keep" when asked about job cuts.

In the past 12 months, Jaguar Land Rover has announced 6,000 job losses in the UK, which it blamed on a slowdown in the Chinese economy, a slump in demand for diesel vehicles and Brexit uncertainty.

On Friday, Mr Speth again listed off similar factors which were cited as reasons for job losses as reasons employment levels may be affected in the future.

He said: "I guess everybody knows there is no surprise that the automotive industry, but that Jaguar Land Rover, is facing a very difficult time.

"It's unprecedented in the history that so many factories are coming simulatenously together."

When asked if there could be further job losses, he said: "Geopolitical ones, regulatory ones, WLTP... and at the end of the day, China or whatever it takes."

Jaguar's electric I-PACE car, on show at a recent motor trade event. Credit: AP

Despite concerns over the future of the automotive industry, the Government and union leaders welcomed the news as a “fantastic boost” to the car industry.

The XJ has been in production for 50 years and has been popular with business leaders, celebrities, politicians and royalty and has been exported to more than 120 countries.

The news was confirmed to workers at Castle Bromwich as production of the current XJ came to an end on Friday.

Dr Speth said: "We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, electronic drive units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands."

JLR said the new battery assembly centre at Hams Hall, operational in 2020, will be the most innovative and technologically advanced in the UK with a capacity of 150,000 units.

Castle Bromwich will become the UK's first premium electrified vehicle plant, said the company, adding that work will start later this month to install new facilities and technologies.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "Today's announcement is a vote of confidence in the UK automotive industry - protecting thousands of skilled jobs. It reflects our determination for the UK to be at the forefront of the development and manufacturing of the next generation of electric vehicles."