Situated in Changshu province on the coast of China, the 400,000 square metre site has been two years in the making, and now occupies an area bigger than the O2 Arena in Greenwich. By the end of this year, 2500 people will be working at the £1.1 billion factory, that will be capable of producing 130,000 vehicles purely for the Chinese market. It’s part of a 50:50 partnership with Chery Automobile Company Ltd, and forms a crucial part of JLR’s target of selling a million vehicles a year by 2020.
The Range Rover Evoque is the first of three JLR vehicles to be made in the Changshu factory by 2016 (we’re waiting to hear which other Land Rovers, or Jaguars, the company has in mind). In addition to making European-spec vehicles, the new factory will also produce new derivatives and models designed specially for the Chinese market.
Those vehicles will be made in highly-automated press shops, including a steel body shop comprising 306 robots, an energy-efficient paint shop. A new aluminium body shop is already under construction, the first in China.
JLR is currently sending more than 100,000 vehicles a year to China, making it the company’s biggest market. Evoques will continue to be made at the UK’s Halewood facility, but shifting some manufacturing to China will free up much-needed capacity in JLR’s UK factories, which have been running at full-pelt to keep up with global demand.
Chinese customers will be able to purchase the first locally-produced Evoques from early 2015. Further details will be released at the Guangzhou Motor Show on November 20-23 this year.
Wondering what those Chinese characters mean on the back of that Evoque? They translate as 'Qi Rui Lu Hu'. Qi Rui is the Chinese name for Chery Automobile Company, meaning something like 'Wonderful Excellent'; Lu Hu is the name for Land Rover, meaning 'Road Tiger'. So in full, the characters read Wonderful Excellent Road Tiger! (Thanks to Vanessa Lu for helping us with the translation. Our Chinese is a bit rusty.)