Jaguar Land Rover to create 1,700 UK jobs
Jaguar Land Rover unveiled plans to create 1,700 new jobs in the U.K. on Tuesday, as its CEO heralded strong global demand, in marked contrast to other, more cautious carmakers.
Speaking from the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, said economic recovery across all regions was starting to take hold.
"We see really a strong U.S., credible growth in Europe and the emerging markets are absolutely strong. So overall demand especially for Jaguar Land Rover is strong… We see a recovery," he told CNBC.
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Speth also dismissed concerns about mid-market carmakers encroaching on the premium market. Citroen, for example, has recently launched the more upmarket DS range of vehicles, while Peugeot's new 308 marks its attempts to break into the premium sector.
"I don't think (this is a threat)," Speth said. "We have a very clear product portfolio, a very capable product portfolio… We will make our way."
Speth's bullish comments differed to those of other European carmaker CEOs, who warned that the region's auto industry may not return to growth until it undergoes even heavier restructuring.
The CEO of Ford Europe said any recovery would be "long and slow," while the chief financial officer of Volkswagen warned that an industry revival would not be forthcoming without a focus on cost-cutting and restructuring.
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By contrast, Jaguar announced investment of around £1.5 million in product development at its U.K. manufacturing plant in Solihull, in the West Midlands. Some 1,700 jobs will be created at the plant as a result of the expansion, which will focus on the production of a new, aluminum bodywork. The company said this new "architecture" would help it become more competitive and efficient.
"These architectures are essential to have a tailor-made solution for the right segment. Lightweight, drivability, combined with sustainable efficiency. This combination – that's what we want to do," Speth added.
The first model to feature this bodywork will be a Jaguar sports sedan, due to be launched next year. The vehicle will also be the first to include an engine built at Jaguar's new engine manufacturing plant, near Wolverhampton, U.K.
Britain's Business Secretary Vince Cable welcomed the "ground-breaking project," which he said took Jaguar Land Rover's presence in the U.K. to the next level.
Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, said the investment in Britain would give its economy a "helpful boost," and could be mirrored by other global automakers.
"The U.K. automaking industry was considered a dying sector as car factories produced high volume motors by low-skilled manufacturing," he said. "However, the U.K. government's initiatives to kick-start manufacturing activity is turning the country's auto making industry into one of premium niche manufacturing."
—By CNBC's Katrina Bishop. Follow her on Twitter @KatrinaBishop