As part of plans to boost its worldwide production of lightweight aluminium vehicles, Jaguar Land Rover has signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ with the Slovak government, agreeing to build a new plant in the western city of Nitra. Up to 300,000 vehicles a year could be built at the new factory within the next ten years.
The first vehicles are expected to roll off the new production line in 2018. Details of what they’ll be are yet to be announced, but 2018 is also the year in which we expect the next-generation Defender to appear in the dealerships. Coincidence?
Production of the Land Rover Defender is entering its final stages at Solihull, and is due to finish by January 2016 but no details about its replacement have been announced.
We're sure that the new Defender won’t be built at Solihull, due to lack of capacity now that it's also building Jaguars. And, we do know that the new Slovakian factory will be dedicated to lightweight, aluminium vehicles. Does this mean that speculation that the next Defender could use the current Discovery’s steel T5 chassis are out of date? Probably.
Other possible sites for the new factory were considered, in Europe, Mexico and the United States, but the city of Nitra was finally chosen for its strong logistics infrastructure. Slovakia has an established, high-volume automotive industry, and some of Land Rover’s key rival vehicles have been assembled in the country, including the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne.
Despite JLR’s increasingly global footprint, the British manufacturer is keen to emphasise that the UK remains ‘the cornerstone of Jaguar Land Rover’s business, [...] at the centre of its design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities.’
‘The expansion of our business globally is essential to support its long-term, resilient growth,’ says Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover. ‘As well as creating additional capacity, it allows us to invest in the development of more new vehicles and technologies, which supports jobs in the UK.
‘With its established premium automotive industry, Slovakia is an attractive potential development opportunity for us. The new factory will complement our existing facilities in the UK, China, India and the one under construction in Brazil.