Jaguar Land Rover is planning to create a new factory in Saudi Arabia, subject to the outcome of a feasibility study of the kingdom, it announced today.
The move centres around a planned partnership with Saudi Arabia's National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP), helping JLR advance its aluminium platform technology.
What are the details of the JLR-Saudi deal?
Jaguar Land Rover is eyeing the opening of a new aluminium production facility in Saudi Arabia as the perfect partner to its own aluminium-underpinned range, from the XJ limo to Range Rover SUV. It'd bring production nearer to one of the important growth territories for the brand.
The new Ras Al Khair pressing plant (set to be the world’s largest integrated aluminium complex) is due to open in 2014. It's a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company and Alcoa of the US, and would allow high-volume production of complex JLR body panels.
Jaguar Land Rover, along with Audi, is one of the few mainstream motoring brands to have adopted aluminium for its road cars. It remains an expensive way to reduce kerb weight in cars - but benefits fuel economy, emissions, performance and handling.
Dr Ralf Speth, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, said: 'We are committed to further international partnerships to meet record demand for our highly sought-after vehicles. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an attractive potential development option, complementing our existing advanced facilities in Britain and recent manufacturing plans to expand in other countries including India and China.'
Why is Saudi Arabia itself of key interest to JLR?
As western car markets continue to sway on their feet, Jaguar Land Rover has enjoyed bumper sales in emerging markets. It's this windfall that's largely contributed to a 32% increase in global sales for the company this year alone: 324,184 JLR vehicles have been sold up to 30 November 2012.
Middle Eastern and North African sales have been positive in 2012 for Jaguar Land Rover, too: deliveries are up 9% to 11,418 units in the region.
If all goes well, JLR will announce details on investments, potential job creation and production volumes on its new Saudi venture in 2013. It's a crumb of comfort on the day Jaguar sadly announced it has binned production plans for the C-X75 supercar (see full details here).