All-electric by 2030 but Jaguar Land Rover signals it will employ fewer people too

JLR is developing fuel-cell technology that uses hydrogen gas to generate electricity to power cars. Credit: PA

The new chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has set out his vision for the future of the company.

Thierry Bollore pledged that every model JLR produces will have the option of a battery electric engine by 2030 and that he will make the company a “net zero carbon business” by 2039.

The roll-out of electric and hybrid cars at JLR has been sluggish. The company only has one “all-electric” model, the Jaguar iPace, which has won lots of awards but accounts for only 4% of sales.

Last year, JLR was fined £35 million for failing to hit EU emissions targets. On Monday morning, Thierry Bollore pledged that the effort to make its cars less polluting would accelerate “at full-throttle”. 

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore Credit: JLR

Jaguar’s fleet will be all-electric “from 2025”. Land Rover’s will take longer to go green - the first battery electric vehicle won’t be produced until 2024. 

JLR is developing fuel-cell technology that uses hydrogen gas to generate electricity to power cars and produces zero emissions. So far, so positive. Climate change demands that we live our lives in radically different ways and JLR, sensibly, plans to march in pace with the times.

But the transformation required is considerable. As it stands, 57% of the cars it sold last year were pure petrol or diesel engines. The company has made it clear where it wants to end-up, it hasn’t really said how it will get there. We have the destination but not the roadmap.

Bollore said JLR will make fewer models and use fewer platforms in future. He speaks of prioritising “quality and profits over volume” and of “right sizing the business”. These are pretty clear indications that JLR will produce fewer cars going and will need fewer people as a result. 

  • Thierry Bollore said Jaguar will undergo a "complete renaissance".

“JLR has essentially set out a target to meet the government’s 2030 target for going electric, starting with Jaguar becoming an upmarket competitor to Tesla from 2025,” says Professor David Bailey of the Birmingham Business School. 

“Overall, this is a welcome move but remember that JLR is playing catch up. This will mean job losses but how many is not clear.”

JLR directly employs around 31,000 people in the UK currently and a further 200,000 jobs in its retailer network and supply chain. It’s also not clear where cars of the future and the batteries they need will be built. Once upon a time, JLR’s stated ambition was to produce one million cars a year. No longer. 

  • Thierry Bollore outlines JLR's new plans

Last year, JLR built 243,000 of them in the UK, the rest in factories in China, Slovakia and Brazil. Brexit has made the UK a less attractive place to build cars. The requirement to complete customs declarations and to comply with rules of origin to avoid tariffs on cars and car parts shipped to and from the EU, has added costs and complexity.

JLR says all of its factories, including the three in the UK, will be “retained.” Intriguingly, plans for an electrified version of the Jaguar XJ at Castle Bromwich have need scrapped. The site, which employs 2500 people, will be “repurposed.” What that means isn’t yet clear.JLR can build its cars anywhere in the world, a point the company will be politely making in private to government ministers. Given the “Britishness” of the brands, I think we can expect the company to ask for, and to get, significant incentives to keep production here.Unite the Union says it “broadly welcomes” the vision JLR has set out and says it is reassured that there will be “no plant closures and no compulsory job losses”. As applause goes, that’s pretty lukewarm.