News : 1500 new jobs at Halewood

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Graham Ruddick

Range Rover Evoque
Range Rover Evoque

An expansion of the plant – one of the biggest car manufacturing facilities in the UK – comes amid growing worries over a slowdown in UK industry and the prospects of a double dip recession in the wider economy. JLR’s Land Rover plant in Halewood is at full capacity producing the new Range Rover Evoque and growing the factory will allow the company to keep up with surging demand for its products.

Sources familiar with the situation say the company is exploring plans to double the size of the plant by developing on surrounding land. This will represent an investment of around £100m, although the proposals are thought to be at a relatively early stage. The premium car maker has already confirmed it is building a £355m engine plant in Wolverhampton and is redeveloping its factory in Solihull. It has hired thousands of new employees over the last 12 months to launch new models, including for the Evoque at Halewood last year.

The release of the Evoque, nicknamed the “Baby Range Rover”, has sparked another stage of expansion for JLR. Its sales are up 30pc year-on-year. It is understood the company is on course to post new record profits for the 2012 financial year and could even make £1.5bn.

JLR employees were called into work over Christmas to work a special shift to help keep up with demand. An expansion of Halewood, which employs 3,000 people at present, will take the UK another step towards producing a record number of cars. The country produced 1.9m cars a year in its manufacturing heyday in the early 1970s.

However, it could break that annual record within five to 10 years following £4bn of investment in the last 12 months from car makers such as Toyota, BMW and JLR. JLR has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since seeking loan guarantees from the Labour Government in 2009. Demand for its premium cars in emerging markets led to JLR posting record profits of £1.1bn in the year to March 31, 2011.

Under chief executive Ralf Speth and Indian parent Tata, JLR is investing more than £1bn a year into research and development. It wants to launch 40 new vehicles in the next five years, including a Jaguar sports car and a new Land Rover Defender. The company is in talks with Chinese car maker Chery about a joint venture that would allow JLR to open manufacturing facilities in China for the domestic market. The car maker is also exploring how it can work more closely with British schools in order to boost the number of engineering graduates.

A spokesman for JLR said: “JLR has not made any announcements about Halewood and we do not comment on speculation about possible future plans.”

Despite the global economic uncertainty, a new survey from General Electric says 71pc of high-tech manufacturers in Britain are forecasting their business will grow in 2012.

Out of more than 350 businesses questioned, a quarter said their business will grow by more than 10pc. The manufacturers said this is due to demand from emerging markets, the helpful exchange rate and internal improvements in products and services.
The growth predictions have been made despite only 15pc of manufacturers being positive about the UK economy. Also, 26pc said bank finance remained either “impossible to obtain, or obtainable only on unacceptable terms”.

Mark Elborne, chief executive of GE UK, said: “These figures demonstrate UK high-tech manufacturing is still a growth story and can play a pivotal role in turning round the UK’s economy. It is encouraging to see that a good proportion of these firms are expecting significant growth in the next 12 months. However, we need to ensure conditions are right to help them grow and take advantages of the opportunities on offer.”

[Source: Daily Telegraph]

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

32 Comments

  1. The Indians bought a viable business that was producing cars for a good wedge of dosh…the Chinese bought an almost derelict factory and a badge for a pittance…I think they are starting a bit further back but they will catch up.

    Well done JLR

  2. Excellent news – shows what can be done if you research your market and then provide the right products, at the right price, in the right place etc – the five Ps and all that. Well done JLR.

    Doubtless the comments section will be full of the usual “wasn’t like this in my day”, “can’t stand the Evoque – bloody rubbish”, “it started life as the ADO104” etc etc.

    It’s also interesting to see the MSM still desperate to talk us into another recession despite many indicators pointing the other way. S*d the lot of ’em.

  3. I work just down the road from Halewood at one of JLR’s suppliers.
    I heard my employer’s owner today talking about a possible 1500 new jobs at Halewood. He also mentioned a Jaguar sports car with impressive performance figures – speed and mpg.

    It seems the redundancies mentioned a few days ago on AROnline were of undesirable agency workers. Any texts advising of redundancy had been sent by the agency as opposed to JLR.

  4. “@4 i bet ford are choked out of thier heads having dropped a clanger like this and punting off PAG.”

    Well i think they had to dispose of PAG, to keep their heads above water. It’s probably the main reason Ford were the only manufacturer that didn’t need a government bail out. Basically because they’d sold off a load of assets to generate cash.

    I think Ford and JLR gained a lot from each other though, JLR the investment, and Ford the technology, certainly their safety, Styling and Build quality of Fords improved after their ownership of Jag & Volvo.

  5. Its a bit ironic. During the boom years of the 2000s, Dagenham, Luton and Longbridge all bit the dust whilst Halewood itself only survived by the skin of its teeth. Now here we are in the depths of a never ending recession with the Euro about to go belly up and the US almost defaulting on its debt yet JLR are in a position to double the size of Halewood! – and thats on top of the new Wolverhampton engine plant. Wonderful news!

  6. Another interesting thought. When Austin Rover was still very much a going concern in the mid 80s, its model range, including Jaguar just before it was sold off consisted of 10 model ranges – Mini, Metro, Maestro, Montego, Rover 200, Rover 800, Range Rover, Defender, XJ and XJS. It operated out of 5 factories – Longbridge, Cowley, Solihull, Browns Lane and Castle Bromwich. Todays Jaguar Landrover/BMW Mini operations also have between them 10 model ranges – MINI, XF, XJ, XK, Defender, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Discovery, Freelander and Evoque. It operates out of 4 factories – Halewood, Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Cowley. But in the 80s cars like the Maestro and Montego struggled to sell in the UK never mind in the rest of Europe and never went near the US or China, whilst the factories where starved of investment and operated at a fraction of their capacity. Todays cars sell at a premium all over the world with production capacity bursting at the seams. The good old days? I think not!

  7. It good to see JLR are helping to promote Engineering in Education. The lack of young engineers is a real problem that needs to be quickly adressed if the UK wants to keep its bouyant car industry.

    I run an auto R&D company (JLR is one of my clients) and recruitment of young people with the right educaton and experience is hard.

  8. Car manufacturing is booming as the rest of the economy struggles, this is a natural consequence of a floating exchange rate, I suspect FIAT isn’t doing quite so well.
    So Britain’s car manufacturing might surpass it’s previous early 70s peak, but surely by any rational measure we’re doing much better now. Not one of our car plants turns out cheap cars and we produce plenty of very expensive ones, surely an XJ is worth substantially more than a mini was 40 years ago or a Hyundai i10 is today.

  9. It is ironic that just over 10 years ago Halewood was still churning out Ford Escorts for Mr Average by the thousand, now it is making premium products that the whole world wants to buy. A great British success story (for once!)

  10. This is great news for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and I wish them all the best for ongoing success as I am a genuine supporter, particularly of Land Rover’s products.

    To answer some of the previous comments about why JLR is so successful today and the Austin Rover Group of the 1980s wasn’t, JLR is actually producing cars that it is very confident customers will actually want to go out and buy. This is as a result of extensive market research and appraisal of the competition, and upping its game in terms of investing in new technology and raising its quality standards. JLR has also got its cost base under control so that it does not need to ‘pile them high’ in order to make a profit.

    Thanks to this approach JLR is now making profits – big profits – while its owner is investing heavily in the company too; two factors that the Austin Rover Group was regularly deprived of. The fact that JLR has three assembly plants and is rumoured to be looking to expand one and updating another, suggests that it is operating the right number in relation to the number of ranges being offered and the total volume produced. Thankfully this is in complete constrast to a factory such as Longbridge that, in the 1980s, was too large and under-utilised in relation to the number of vehicles being produced.

    Good luck to JLR and it shows why the British buying public should be rightly proud, and hopefully supportive, of British manufacturing success.

  11. @David 3500, couldn’t agree more.

    A shame that in the 80’s Austin Rover didn’t close either Cowley or Longbridge and consolidate production to one plant, easier to run, easier to afford.

  12. I think this also confirms what a mistake the Government made in 1968 burdening the successful Leyland with the lame duck BMC. The remnants of British Leyland that are now so succesful are very closely aligned in terms of market position to the original Leyland – Rover/Landrover/Triumph. Premium cars sold very profitably across the world.

  13. Design attractive product that customers want and is right for the market – it sells. Simples.

    Trouble is that both JLR and Aston Martin are reaping the benefits of styling/engineering started by Ford – I hope they can continue the progress.

    Also, last time Land Rover had an unexpected sales boom (Discovery) quality suffered as suppliers and manufacturing facilities struggled to cope with the unexpected/unplanned demand – I hope they don’t make the same mistakes.

  14. IMO, Jaguar was hemmed in by being part of Ford. it had Aston Martin above them for £70k + sport and touring cars and it had Volvo below them for smaller upmarket family cars. Ford also thought that Jaguar should be retro but the C, D & E Types were not retro in their day and nor should thay have ben under Ford. Granted, Ford gave Jaguar the ability to make the XJ & XK aluminium but that’s almost a poisoned challice. The on-cost of the Al monocoque will bite into profits. That’s why XF is a steel body on a steel S-Type floor pan.

  15. The success of JLR makes you wonder what would have happened if BL had concentrated on JRT back in the 70s, producing SD2 and Lynx, expanding the LR/RR range earlier, and chopped one of Longbridge or Cowley instead?

  16. Andrew P – I recall that at the time Halewood went over to Jaguar, productivity and build quality were very good, which is why Ford were keen not to close the plant, as if Ford had kept it, it would have probably produced somnething like the C-Max.

    Moving Freelander 2 there was a sensible decision too, as it’s far more suited for such volume work then Solihull, and with its productivity and quality probably ‘deserved’ the work more…

  17. “It operated out of 5 factories – Longbridge, Cowley, Solihull, Browns Lane and Castle Bromwich.”

    More than that, they’re just the car assembly plants. They also had a plant in Swindon (now BMW’s) which made body pressings. There was also a plant in wales that made small parts (originally used for making J40’s) and the SU carburetter plant (owned by BL) i’m pretty sure there were other smaller satelite plants too.

    BMW now use at least 3 sites in the UK for Mini production. Hams Hall (engines), Cowley (assembly), Swindon (pressings) and arguably Dagenham (diesel engine supply). there is presumably a gearbox plant somewhere too.

  18. @jonathan carling, ford are too idealistic and are too big to be seroiusly organised. they work to a very tight model for parts and service and organisation ideal processes and structures and if it (any number of things and processes) dont fit that model then they wont have it. JLR on the other hand look seriously like they can adapt, and adpat quickly and now individually it seems. in other words. ford are too big to be flexible and too big pay close attention to all parts of the (larger) buisness. have you seen the Yankee ford truck that looks marginally like the range rover?, and and have you noticed that all the ford vehciles and a bunch or land rovers all have very similar styled interiors . if the parts arent the same they sure look they they were styled in the same room interstingly though if you want a replacement part for a Ford like a heater fans speed controller or something…they are stupidly expensive.

  19. “have you seen the Yankee ford truck that looks marginally like the range rover?, and and have you noticed that all the ford vehciles and a bunch or land rovers all have very similar styled interiors ”

    I would imagine that’s just born from Ford training many of JLR’s designers. Some of Ford’s then upcoming designers would have been promoted and transfered to PAG, naturally they’re going to design in the style of their former mentors.

  20. 24 Dennis:

    “BMW now use at least 3 sites in the UK for Mini production. Hams Hall (engines), Cowley (assembly), Swindon (pressings) and arguably Dagenham (diesel engine supply). there is presumably a gearbox plant somewhere too.”

    Unfortunately, BMW closed their UK gearbox facility at Midland Gears. They used to manufacture gearboxes for the MINI and Rover; when Rover moved their source of supply abroad, the factory became uneconomic and it was closed. MINI gearboxes are now sourced from Getrag.

  21. “Unfortunately, BMW closed their UK gearbox facility at Midland Gears.”

    AKA the Longbridge Gearbox unit. Where are the Getrag boxes made though?

  22. Friend of mine works for Mini dealer; he said Mini use Toyota engines in some of their line up… at one time they were all Toyota engines. I wonder what is correct then??

  23. The first generation DIESELs used the Toyota Yaris engine.
    The first generation PETROL cars with the 1.6 used the Tritec unit imported from brazil, basically the Chrysler Neon engine.

    The second generation Mini’s (2006 on) use PSA/Ford HDi Diesel engines usually built at Dagenham.
    As well as BMW/PSA Petrol engines made in Ham’s Hall.

    They don’t currently use any Toyota engines that i know of.

  24. 29 and 31.

    The Getrag units are built in France.

    BMW haven’t used any Toyota engines since the demise of the R50 diesel in 2006.

    The R56 MINI (2006 onwards) used the Ford/PSA diesel until very recently, when it was changed to a version of BMW’s own 4 cylinder diesel.

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