Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) says it has recruited three times more graduates this year as it continues to ramp up production in the face of strong global demand.

The Tata-owned automaker is booking improved sales across emerging markets and has seen a powerful order schedule for the new Evoque produced at its UK Halewood plant.

“We have recruited 336 graduates and 104 apprentices,” a JLR spokesman told just-auto. “The 336 this year was three times as many as last year.”

Five-times Olympic gold-medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave addressed the graduate intake two weeks ago, while JLR's personnel investment has also been made in tandem with a significant cash injection.

“We are the largest investor in the UK in automotive in terms of research and development,” said the JLR spokesman. “It is on new engines, technologies and vehicle lines. It shows our commitment to our growth plans.”

Emerging markets form a core sector of the manufacturer's sales and although JLR would not be drawn on concrete plans to establish a production site in China, the spokesman noted: “We have aspirations to manufacture in China.”

JLR set up a national sales company in China 12 months ago with some 200 staff now employed and says it has “invested heavily” in the country.

“Jaguar went into China in 2003 and Land Rover in 2005 and in that time we have grown to 40,000 vehicles so China is a very significant market for us,” said the spokesman. “Russia is a strong market for us and in the last few months has grown quite fast again – [it] is up to our fifth biggest market.

“Since we were taken over by Tata, we have started to invest in India and have a CKD facility for the Freelander, which we opened in May. We have 13 dealers [there].

JLR also notes its new Evoque is “around 85% incremental sales” and has not affected models such as the Freelander.

“We could expect some substitutional sales but not so,” said the JLR spokesman. “The Freelander has not tailed off or the Range Rover Sport which is great for us.”

JLR notes it has sold 20,000 Evoque models globally with around 6,000 in the UK. The first of these was delivered in 6 September.