What a relief to see the skeleton of the new Tata-driven Jaguar Land Rover emerge from the mists. We’ve known for a while that the problem was receiving the combined brainpower of Tata’s automotive experts and an assemblage of local consultants, but their deliberations have been so leak and wrinkle-free that the announcement rather took us by surprise.
Yet the twin announcements (the Range Rover LRX confirmed; either Solihull or Castle Bromwich to close) tell us a terrific amount about the company’s brave new tomorrow, and it’s all exciting.
They sketch a picture of a company making around 300,000 cars a year – with all but the Freelander-LRX in aluminium – with a proper suite of Jaguar models (not just one per size) and Range Rovers and Discoveries that weigh anything up to 500 kilograms lighter at the kerb. Add that electric back axle LR engineers are working on, and you’ve got a big 4x4 emitting less than 200g/km of CO2. What progress. The official line from big boss David Smith says the company won’t decide which Midlands factory will close until the middle of next year, but our spies seem to have established that it’s Solihull.
Stands to reason, if you ask me. Castle Brom-built aluminium Jags have been topping JD Power quality surveys for years, while Solihull-built Landies persist in having assembly “issues”.
However, given that no-one is going to lose his or her job in this move, you can’t help hoping that the relocated folks from Solihull (where workforce practices were unreconstructed, shall we say) will adopt the modern culture and quality standards of their new place of work.
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