Jaguar Land Rover is to double the size of its i54 engine plant in Wolverhampton taking the total workforce at the factory to around 1,500, it was revealed today.
Construction work is under way on the £355 million factory at the i54 business park, but it today emerged that the firm will pump in another £150m to pay for a huge expansion.
The expansion of the site, on the border of South Staffordshire, comes in the wake of surging demand for its Jaguars and Land Rovers around the world which saw JLR break sales records last year.
Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire, said today: “The extra £150m that’s going to be invested on top of £355m to double the size of employment will be a massive boost for Staffordshire and the Black Country.
“This will be half a billion pounds of investment and is something we all welcome.
“It is incredible to think that the already overwhelmingly positive effects of this engine plant will be doubled.”
The company has previously said the factory would create more than 700 jobs, with another 200 working for maintenance, catering and cleaning firms.
But, with already massive demand for its cars expected to increase, the company is now planning to double the output from the engine factory to supply its next generation of smaller cars with newly developed four cylinder diesel and petrol engines.
Unconfirmed figures suggest JLR could be aiming to hit sales of around 600,000 by 2020.
The current engine factory is not due to start rolling out production engines until early 2015 and the first workers will not move into completed areas until late summer.
But JLR has already decided that it needs the factory to double in size, creating a total of 1,500 jobs on the site.
Neither Wolverhampton nor South Staffordshire councils were prepared to comment today ahead of an official statement expected overnight.
The existing factory plans include two huge halls each the size of three football pitches. But the i54 development site has enough room to build a similar sized plant virtually next door to the existing building site.
Although planners have divided the available space up for possible headquarters office buildings or advanced manufacturing sites, they are expected to welcome an expansion of JLR’s engine factory, which currently extends over 828,000 sq ft.
It would make the i54 a major engineering hub for the region, with aerospace company Moog already working at its new 201,000 sq ft factory which opened last summer.
Wolverhampton food testing company Eurofins has also moved onto bigger premises built on the site.
In addition, the huge United Technologies Corporation aviation components factory, formerly Goodrich Actuation Systems, on Stafford Road, is just a short distance away.
The boss of the new JLR factory, former Jaguar factory operations chief Ken Close, said recruitment for the plant was already under way. Construction company Interserve is already putting the roof on the two buildings that make up the factory.
Mr Close said the first JLR staff will start working at the site full-time in the late summer, starting to install production machinery while Interserve completes the building – due to be formally handed over in November.
Business editor Simon Penfold looks at the rise and rise of Jaguar Land Rover – See today's Express & Star