By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland is recruiting 900 workers at Jaguar, Coventry, to increase by one third production of the XJ6 saloon and E-type sports car models. This takes the total of new jobs announced by the group in the past two days to 1,850. As reported in Business News yesterday 850 additional jobs are being created at Austin-Morris, Cowley, Oxford, where production of the Marina and Maxi models will be increased from 5,500 a week to 7,000.
Jaguar has been under immense pressure to increase output since the XJ6 was launched in 1968. It made such an impact that deliveries have still not caught up with orders. Since then the model has been introduced into new overseas markets with equal succcess. Because of the shortage of capacity, however, only token numbers have reached many of these markets. The appearance of the V12 engine, the only one of its type in volume production, gave a new lease of life to the E-type and is expected to appear in a version of the XJ6 later this year.
Jaguar has an industrial development certificate to build a new plant at Coventry, but this is a long-term measure and will not close the present gap between deliveries and demand. As an interim measure the company is introducing two more night shifts to raise output from 750 cars a week to 1,000. It is also stepping up its order schedules for components. Yesterday’s news that foreign cars took their highest ever share last month of the United Kingdom market (24.6 per cent) because British cars were in short supply emphasizes the need for short-term measures to step up home production.
But labour unrest continues to exact a heavy toll on BLMC output. On top of the £10m worth of cars lost at Cowley recently, Triumph plants at Coventry and Liverpool have been at a virtual standstill for the past fortnight because of a strike by axle assemblers. Some 8,500 men are laid off, although this number is reduced for short periods by limited production of the 1500 front-wheel drive model.
Rover Chief Mr Bernard Smith said: “We are seeing a buoyancy in the economy reflected in the sales.”