► Disco production moving to Slovakia
► 1800 agency jobs in UK at risk
► Solihull plant getting pricey retool
The Land Rover Discovery - in many ways, the heartland of the brand - will no longer be made in the UK. Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to move production of the new Disco from Solihull in the West Midlands to Nitra in Slovakia, putting 1800 agency jobs at risk. That’s around a fifth of the total workforce.
While a blow for UK manufacturing, Land Rover is adamant that it's committed to working in the UK - and the production switch will actually mean further reinvestment in the Solihull plant. According to a separate statement, the plant will now be retooled for the production of high-end, flagship and, increasingly, electric models.
Read our review of the new Land Rover Discovery
‘This significant investment and technology upgrade in Solihull in order to accommodate our next generation of flagship Land Rover models, and the refit of our Halewood plant for the next Evoque, is proof that we remain committed both to the UK and to transformation and growth,’ the statement reads. And while we don’t know how much that investment adds up to, it’s likely to be in the hundred of millions of pounds.
Alongside the retooling in Solihull, JLR added that its plant in Halewood would also be overhauled to prepare for the upcoming 2019 Range Rover Evoque.
Why is Land Rover moving Discovery production to Slovakia?
JLR initially stated that the new Slovakia factory (below) would share production duties with the Solihull plant, and this week's new announcement represents a change from that. ‘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,’ JLR said in a statement.
It's down to managing costs and juggling its industrial footprint, as the company expands at a rate of knots. There simply isn't capacity at its UK factories to build the multitude of models in the pipeline.
JLR’s strategy is to build cars at multiple factories around the globe. ‘This multi-plant approach mirrors the strategy taken for Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport at our plants in Halewood, China and Brazil, ensuring our manufacturing output is able to keep up with strong consumer demand,’ said Wolfgang Stadler, global manufacturing director.
How bad is this?
While putting any jobs at risk is always always a bad thing, it’s significant that JLR has moved its successful Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia, but kept production of its forthcoming flagship and electrified cars – a hugely important phase for the company – in the UK. It means the company’s Solihull and Halewood plants will remain at the cutting-edge of its long-term strategy.
Read our Land Rover reviews here