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Land Rover to move Discovery production to Slovakia from Solihull

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

Jaguar Land Rover is to shift all production of its Discovery model to Slovakia from Solihull in a move likely to affect hundreds of workers.

The company said the switch, ending 30 years of Discovery production at the West Midlands factory, will take place in early 2019 and that agency workers are most at risk from the decision.

Two years ago the firm, owned by India's Tata Motors, insisted that its new Slovakia plant would 'complement' its UK operations, with the Discovery built in both locations.

But on Monday Jaguar Land Rover said that all production of the Discovery would be done in the Eastern European nation.

"The decision to move the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia and the potential losses of some agency employed staff in the UK is a tough one but forms part of our long-term manufacturing strategy as we transform our business globally," the group added.

The Discovery has been made at Solihull since it was first launched by Land Rover in 1989 and is now in its fifth generation.

The decision is due to the scale of a redevelopment needed at Solihull to cater for a completely new version of both the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. It will affect around a third of the 300-acre Solihull factory site. The biggest plant in the company, it currently employs 9,000 people.

The announcement comes just two months after the company revealed it was axing 1,000 agency workers at Solihull after a slowdown in production.

Since then the company has revealed its profits were almost cut in half in the fourth quarter as the car-maker was stung by a combination of falling diesel sales, Brexit uncertainty and vehicle taxation.

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The group saw pre-tax profit slump to £364 million in the three months to March 31, down from £676 million in the same period last year.

In the UK, the company said it was "impacted by consumer uncertainty surrounding diesel models, Brexit and vehicle taxation".

Alongside the Slovakia announcement, Jaguar said it will invest millions in a revamp of Solihull, where the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models will be built.

In addition the next Range Rover Evoque will be built at a site in Halewood.

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"This significant investment and technology upgrade in Solihull in order to accommodate our next-generation of flagship Land Rover models, and the refit of our Halewood plant for the next Evoque, is proof that we remain committed both to the UK and to transformation and growth," the group said.

As well as new manufacturing plants in China and South America, JLR has struck a deal with carmaker Magna Steyr to build the both its Jaguar E-Pace and the all-electric I-Pace models in Austria. The E-Pace is also being built in China.

The E-Pace is the smaller version of the hugely popular F-Pace Jaguar SUV and has been one of the company's strongest sellers over recent months.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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