21 September 2004

Jaguar’s historic Browns Lane factory has been axed as part of a last-ditch attempt to secure the British car maker’s future. The move, which is scheduled for September 2005, will end over 50 years of Jaguar production at the 88-acre facility. Some 400 jobs will be lost at Browns Lane and 425 jobs transfered to Castle Bromwich (right), which is now scheduled to build the 2006 XK150, replacement for the XK series.

A further 750 ‘staff and agency’ jobs are also due for the chop. However Browns Lane will continue to be home to the company HQ, the heritage centre and the ‘wood shop’ which will employ 310 people and supply interior trim for Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover. The plan will also see Jaguar’s F1 team canned at the end of the year.

Joe Greenwell, CEO of Jaguar and Land Rover, placed much of the blame on ‘too much [factory] capacity, weakness of the dollar and a shift from premium cars to SUVs. Despite significant sales growth and excellent levels of quality in recent years, we have not been able to keep pace with significantly larger competitors,’ he told the press conference.

Currently Jaguar assembles the XJ executive car and the XK roadster and coupé at Browns Lane. However, the factory does not have a body press shop or paint plant and Jaguar’s 120,000 output is spread across three factories, all of which are currently on a four-day week.

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With no prospect of a major boost in volume for at least two years, Ford bosses needed drastic action to stem huge losses.

Jaguar also revealed that a diesel-engined XJ will be launched next year, along with a ‘high performance’ diesel X-type. Eventually, it’s thought all Jaguar production will be centred on Castle Bromwich. Even the next-generation X-type could be built in aluminium – and Autocar sources confirm it will be rear-wheel drive. However, Jaguar’s lack of presence in the lucrative American SUV market will remain a thorny problem.

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