Jaguar Land Rover has announced an overhaul of its UK manufacturing operations, revealing plans for a new family of Range Rover models and the relocation of Discovery production to JLR's new facility in Nitra, Slovakia.
A JLR statement also detailed plans for a refit at the Halewood production facility in Liverpool ahead of the next Range Rover Evoque's launch next year - meaning the entry-level Range Rover will continue to be built at the plant.
Alongside this, JLR says “a significant investment and technology upgrade” in Solihull will prepare the plant for other new and upcoming Land Rover models. These will be the next Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which will be built on an all-new architecture.
A company spokesman said that the refit would free up future capacity for the Solihull factory. It is possible a new family of electrified and electric JLR cars arriving from next year – including the relaunched XJ and a Range Rover EV, which is codenamed Road Rover and expected to be launched before the start of the next decade – could be produced at the plant, as part of JLR's desire to build electric cars in the UK.
No physical expansion of the Solihull factory is proposed as a result of the shift in production, but JLR claims the planned change in models helps to future-proof the plant. The investment in the UK facilities is said to be in the "hundreds of millions".
The opening of the Nitra plant was originally intended to take pressure off JLR’s UK factories, sharing Discovery production with the Solihull plant. Instead, Nitra will now produce all Discovery models. The next-generation Defender is also set to the built there, given its relationship to the Discovery's underpinnings and the lower production costs.
In a statement on the impact on jobs, JLR said: “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.”
In April, JLR laid off 1000 of its 40,000-strong UK workforce following a decrease in demand across the UK and Europe.
Around 46,000 Discoverys are made annually in Solihull, 80% of which head for foreign markets. The move to Slovakia for Discovery production will take effect at the start of 2019. The Discovery makes up about 10% of Land Rover's total sales.