Exactly which future models will be made by Magna Steyr has not yet been announced, but the move is fuelling speculation that it may be part of a strategy to let the Defender live on after Solihull production ceases in December this year. The next generation Defender, when it emerges, is also a possible candidate.
Any vehicle being built in Graz will be made alongside the Mercedes G-Class, which has been built by Magna Steyr for 36 years and will continue to be built in Graz until at least 2022. Other Magna Steyr projects have included building the Pinzgauer, Aston Martin Rapide, and developing the IRD 4x4 system for the Freelander 1.
‘It’s an interesting move, and another step towards the gradual Germanification of JLR,’ said LRO contributor and industry expert Mike Gould. ‘They’re desperate for extra manufacturing capacity to meet demand, so outsourcing to Magna Steyr will give them that quick fix.’
However, JLR’s CEO Dr Ralph Speth is keen to stress his company’s commitment to the UK. ‘The UK remains at the centre of our design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Partnerships such as this will complement our UK operations and engineering. Today marks another step in building our global footprint. This agreement will allow us to expand our award-winning model range as customers around the world demand ever-more innovative vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover.’
It’s not certain that any Land Rovers will be made in Graz. Given the comparatively low volume of vehicles traditionally manufactured by the company, it’s possible that the contract may only apply to Jaguars, which sell in smaller numbers than most Land Rovers models (excluding the Defender).