According to official figures, Jaguar’s saloon range – made in Castle Bromwich – is the main issue.
That equates to just over 6000 cars per month. An annualised output of just 72,000 cars a year explains why Castle Bromwich – which got £100m in investment just two years ago – was recently on a three-day week.
More worryingly, Jaguar’s well-received F-Pace (made in Solihull) saw year-on-year sales between July and September fall by 5800, compared with the same period in 2017, to 10,300.
The much-rumoured XJ EV is thought to be due next year but is unlikely to patch the Jaguar-shaped hole in JLR’s production plans.
Which is where the new Defender could come in. Although it’s at least a year away from the showroom, it could well underpin JLR’s future growth. According to financial documents released last autumn, the future Defender family is regarded as Land Rover’s third ‘brand pillar’ alongside the Range Rover and Discovery.
The Defender’s brief is to mix ‘off-road expertise’ with ‘practicality, functionality and durability’. A quarter of a century after Ford kicked things off with the Aston Martin DB7, the Defender is perhaps the last of a long line of great British automotive revivals on which much hope is placed. Sources have said the styling of the new car references the original model but it is a long way from a slavish copy. Prices will start at £40,000 and it’s the first model based on JLR’s all-new MLA aluminium platform. So far, so good.