The first Discovery Sport has been handed over to Virgin Galactic as part of a sponsorship deal

The first Discovery Sport has been handed over to Virgin Galactic as part of a sponsorship deal

Two weeks after making its motor show debut, the first production Land Rover Discovery Sport has come off the Halewood production line in England.

The new model is the first of a new Discovery model line and features 5+2 seating in a space no larger than existing five-seat premium SUVs. It goes on sale in 170 markets in early 2015.

This latest model in Tata Motors' Land Rover line-up has created 250 new manufacturing jobs following a GB200m spend at Halewood which also makes the Range Rover Evoque. JLR said it had awarded contracts worth GBP3.5bn to 55 UK companies, safeguarding and creating over 1,000 jobs in the local supply chain. This is part of a strategy outlined this week at a suppliers' conference in Sweden.

Ian Harnett, JLR’s purchasing director said: "A strong, competitive supply chain, meeting our rigorous cost and delivery metrics, is fundamental to the sustainable growth of our business.  With many more new products in the pipeline, gearing up to supply Jaguar Land Rover is a solid business proposition."    

Halewood, originally opened by Ford in 1964, has seen investment in the site more than double and its workforce treble over the last four years with 4,750 people now employed at the site. It has built JLR products since 2001, beginning with the Jaguar X-type under Ford ownership.

Halewood operations director Richard Else said: "Investment in the plant since 2011 now stands at GBP500m and has most recently been demonstrated with the installation of a GBP45m Aida servo press line."

The 'Kaikoura Stone' HSE Luxury specification 'Job One' vehicle was officially handed over to Stephen Attenborough, commercial director, Virgin Galactic, to support Land Rover’s long-term global partnership with Richard Branson's pioneering commercial spaceline.