Jaguar Land Rover will invest almost £1 billion in building electric cars in the UK, despite an industry-wide drop in sales of low-emission vehicles.
Britain’s largest car manufacturer will produce a range of electric vehicles at its plant in Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, in a move which is hoped to secure the site’s roughly 2,500 jobs.
Workers have signed a deal to go from a five- to a four-day work week with the same amount of hours, which is intended to increase the plant’s efficiency.
It comes as industry leaders expressed “grave concern” on Thursday over declining sales of greener vehicles.
Just 13,314 alternatively fuelled cars were registered in the UK last month, down 11.8 per cent on June 2018, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Ministers announced a plan in May 2018 to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol-only cars by 2040. An even more ambitious target of 2032 was pledged by the Scottish Government.
However subsidies for plug-in hybrids were scrapped in last year’s Budget, and cut by £1,000 from £4,500 to £3,500 for battery electric vehicles.
The announcement from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) comes after the company announced close to 4,500 job cuts in January and posted a £3.6bn loss in 2018/19.
Chief Executive Dr Ralph Speth said: “The future of mobility is electric and as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK.”
The carmaker is undergoing a turnaround designed to offer an electrified option to all of its new models from 2020.
The Government and union leaders welcomed the news as a “fantastic boost” to the car industry.
JLR had previously warned that while its ‘heart and soul’ was in the UK, a ‘bad’ Brexit deal would threaten £80bn worth of investment plans in the country and could cause it to close factories.
Dr Speth said: “We are making this investment because the ongoing Brexit uncertainty has left us with no choice, we had to act, for our employees and our business.
“We are committed to the UK as our home and will fight to stay here but we need the right deal.
“We will continue to work with government to secure a deal that support business.”
Three of JLR’s four European car plants are in Britain, giving it limited capacity on the continent.
The other, which opened last year in Slovakia, has taken over low-cost production of more basic vehicles, including the Land Rover Discovery.