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Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover puts UK plant on three day week

By Graeme Roberts | 17 September 2018

Castle Bromwich, a Spitfire shadow factory in WW2, is JLRs main Jaguar plant though some KD kit assembly is done overseas

Castle Bromwich, a Spitfire shadow factory in WW2, is JLR's main Jaguar plant though some KD kit assembly is done overseas

Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover has put its Castle Bromwich Jaguar plant in Birmingham on a three-day week, ironically, just ahead of opening its new Land Rover Discovery plant in Slovakia.

Sky News reported the automaker said it was making "temporary adjustments to its production schedules" for Jaguar "in light of the continuing headwinds impacting the car industry".

The report said the shorter work week would start in October but workers would retain current pay and benefit levels.

Sky News quoted Birmingham Erdington MP Jack Dromey as blaming the cut on a combination of "Brexit chaos" and government ministers' mishandling of the transition from diesel cars.

JLR has invested heavily in a new engine plant and a new line of I4 Ingenium engines in both petrol and diesel forms. All are fully compliant with the latest tough emissions regulations with the diesels using complex SCR/urea injection to meet the latest Euro 6 rules. The Jaguar range sold in UK is currently focused on diesel variants.

Magna Steyr builds the acclaimed new i-Pace SUV EV under contract in Graz, Austria.

The BBC quoted JLR saying in a statement it was standard business practice to "regularly review its production schedules to ensure market demand is balanced globally".

"We are, however, continuing to over-proportionally invest in new products and technologies and are committed to our UK plants, in which we have invested more than GBP4bn since 2010 to future proof manufacturing technologies to deliver new models."

The BBC noted that, last week, JLR CEO Ralf Speth warned the government to get "the right Brexit" or risk big job cuts at the carmaker and wiping out its profits.

The report added the production cutbacks came on the day Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Tory MP and Brexit supporter, accused Speth of scaremongering with his predictions.

"I'm afraid I think he's making it up. We've had figures made up all the time by the scaremongers in this debate and I'm afraid nobody believes them," he told the BBC's Today programme.

The company had said in April it would not renew the contracts of 1,000 temporary workers at two factories, the BBC said.

JLR employs 40,000 people directly, with another 260,000 in its supply chain.

In July, Jaguar Land Rover had warned a "bad" Brexit deal would threaten GBP80bn worth of investment plans for the UK and could force it to close factories.

About 90% of JLR's UK sales are diesels, which have become less popular as buyers question their environmental impact, the BBC said.

JLR reported sales of 36,629 vehicles worldwide in August 2018, down 4.9% year on year. Year to date volume was down 2.6% to 390,992 units.

Here in its UK home market, Land Rover YTD sales of 52,452 were off 9.48%. Jaguar volume was down 6.59% to 23,155, according to SMMT data.

On a brighter note, just-auto data shows JLR total sales in the critical US market up 3.1% YTD to 77,303 cars.