Car production has returned to the former Rover plant in Solihull, West Midlands, with the first new Jaguar XE being built at the facility.
The site has built only Land Rovers since production of the Rover SD1 ceased in 1986, but was subject to a £500 million investment to gear up for the launch of Jaguar’s new compact executive saloon.
The move is reported to have created a further £4 billion investment in the UK automotive supply industry.
The arrival of the XE at the Solihull plant is significant for both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The arrival of Jaguar at Lode Lane is the latest step in a significant five year development, in which Solihull’s production has almost trebled and the workforce doubled.
The opening of the new body shop, trim and final assembly facilities represents the largest investment in the Solihull plant in its 70-year history, and was commemorated by employees and significant names in the company’s history. Solihull Operations Director, Alan Volkaerts, was joined by legendary British motor racing driver Sir Stirling Moss OBE and Jaguar’s highly-regarded test driver, Norman Dewis OBE, who developed no less than 25 significant Jaguar cars, along with TV presenter and Land Rover fan, Quentin Willson.
Speaking at the official opening, Alan Volkaerts said: “This really is an incredibly special day for Jaguar Land Rover and the team here at Solihull, many of whom have witnessed the plant change beyond all recognition in recent times. The arrival of the new Jaguar XE marks a new chapter in the history of this plant and shows the flexibility of our manufacturing operation.
“I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say what an incredible privilege it is to be producing not one, but two of the world’s best-loved motoring brands.”
The start of XE production at the Solihull plant is the first step in making the site a dual-branded manufacturing operation. Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover also confirmed that the new Jaguar F-PACE SUV will be built at the site.