Tata's JLR Becomes UK's Largest Car Maker

LONDON: Jaguar Land Rover has become UK’s largest car maker, a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of the luxury car brand since it was overtaken by Tata Motors over seven-years-ago.

It beat long-time industry leader Nissan to second place, building 489,923 cars in the UK in 2015 compared to the Japanese automotive giant’s 476,589.

“Britain is the beating heart of our business, so becoming the country’s largest vehicle manufacturer is a remarkable achievement, demonstrating our steadfast commitment to the UK manufacturing sector,” said Wolfgang Stadler, Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) executive director of manufacturing.

“2015 was a challenging year for the industry against a backdrop of socio economic instability, but it is a testament to our strong product range and dedicated team of employees that JLR has delivered year-on-year growth, with more exciting products come,” he said.

The news coincides with an announcement from the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that the country’s car manufacturing has had its best year in a decade, producing 1,587,677 vehicles in 2015.

The iconic JLR produces its luxury cars and commercial vehicles at three manufacturing plants in Solihull, Birmingham and Halewood towards the north of England.

Last year it brought 11 new and refreshed cars to market, including the Jaguar XE and XF and the Halewood-built Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The company also invested 1 billion pounds in a state-of-the-art engine manufacturing centre in Wolverhampton to build the high technology, low emission Ingenium engine.

Together, these facilities have created more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs in five years, with the overall UK workforce more than doubling to 35,000.

The remarkable turnaround came under the Tata Group, which acquired the struggling brands from Ford back in 2008 for U.S. $2.3 billion, a deal termed “an expensive mistake” by many analysts at the time.

The turnaround came despite the financial crisis that hit soon after the deal closed, and demand for luxury cars tumbled in Europe and North America” its two biggest markets.

However, JLR posted a 27 percent jump in retail sales in 2011, just three-years after being bought by the Tata Motors.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Despite export challenges in some key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong, reaching record export levels in the past year.”

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Source: PTI