Assembly of Britain's best selling 4x4, the Land Rover Freelander, will transfer mid-decade to Halewood on Merseyside with the next generation model. The Halewood plant, one of the highest performing plants in the Ford Motor Company, will build the Freelander alongside Jaguar's highest volume premium product – the award-winning X-Type.
At the same time, Land Rover confirms the investment of £200 million pounds at the Solihull site in plant and equipment for a new Land Rover multi-vehicle platform to maximise production flexibility. The construction work, which is already advanced, will support the next generation Discovery and other future Land Rover products later this decade. The Land Rover Solihull plant will concentrate on production of the company's larger premium and specialist 4x4 vehicles. These models will benefit from reduced production complexity at the plant.
The Halewood plant on Merseyside, which was successfully transformed to manufacture Jaguar products, recently agreed a number of new working practices which will ensure that the plant remains competitive and committed to continuous improvement. The plant has attracted widespread praise for its efficiency and flexibility. The Solihull plant will benefit from being able to focus exclusively on the larger premium and specialist sectors of the market. Land Rover has invested heavily at Solihull in recent years in products such as the universally praised new Range Rover and 2003 Discovery.Premier Automotive Group Chairman Mark Fields said: "This is the most logical way forward for both plants and is designed to drive greater efficiency in both the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses. This move will allow both plants to operate to maximum efficiency and is an intelligent use of the resources available. This will ensure we increase the production effectiveness and competitiveness of both plants, while enabling the Solihull plant to demonstrate its commitment to continuous improvement. At the same time, we are acknowledging the excellent progress made by Halewood." Chairman and Chief Executive of Jaguar and Land Rover Bob Dover said: "Given the close collaboration between the two companies, this is a rational business decision. The retention of Land Rover vehicle assembly here in the UK means that this move is 'job neutral' – in other words, our objective is to create as many jobs in Britain by this action as we will take out. "Halewood has an excellent reputation for building higher volume premium vehicles and the Solihull plant has over fifty years experience of building larger premium and specialist 4x4 vehicles. The reduction in production complexity will certainly benefit Solihull and its products and will allow the plant to focus on improving competitiveness." This realignment of production will involve employment of around 1,000 jobs at the Halewood site and a reduction of jobs at the Solihull plant of a similar number. The company intends to work closely with the unions in order to achieve the required reduction by voluntary means. To help minimise any impact on the Solihull workforce, a substantial sum has already been set aside to facilitate retraining and help employees plan for this change. This is in addition to any voluntary separation programmes. Land Rover and Jaguar form a vital constituent of the United Kingdom's motor industry. Both companies' products are designed, engineered and built in Britain and sold in some 142 markets around the world. Both brands have a distinctive and respected heritage. The production realignment ensures that both companies will continue to remain at the forefront of premium vehicle manufacture.
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