Jaguar Land Rover has announced its intention to trim Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport production, citing challenges facing the auto industry, including Brexit.
The UK’s largest car manufacturer said it would adjust output at its Halewood plant on Merseyside between March and June despite a record year of sales for the company worldwide in 2017.
JLR made its decision against as the sector demands clarity on the country’s future trading relationship with the EU amid fears potential trade tariffs would drive away UK competitiveness in its biggest market – Europe.
Industry figures have shown that total UK vehicle production fell 2% in 2017 while new car sales in the domestic market were almost 6% lower.
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JLR said: “The automotive industry continues to face a range of challenges which are adversely affecting consumer confidence.
“Ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit is being felt by customers at home (with demand for new cars down 5.7% in 2017) and in Europe where collectively we sell approximately 45% of total UK production.
“Add to this, concern around the future of petrol and diesel engines, and general global economic and political uncertainty, and it’s clear to see why industry is seeing an impact on car sales.
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“As is standard business practice, Jaguar Land Rover regularly reviews its production schedules to ensure market demand is balanced.”
It said it was “sensible business practice” to reflect market forces as volumes had remained at “peak” levels.
“Halewood has enjoyed an extraordinary transformation since the introduction of the Range Rover Evoque in 2011 and Discovery Sport in 2014 thanks to more than £700m of investment,” JLR said.
Image: Dr Ralf Speth is chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover
It is not the only carmaker in the UK to announce production reductions in recent weeks.
Earlier this month the new owner of Vauxhall, PSA Peugeot Citreon, said it was to slash 250 more jobs at the Ellesmere Port factory which makes the Astra.
That was on top of 400 staff cuts announced in October.
The leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, said he had been told at a meeting in Paris with PSA boss Carlos Tavares that the company wanted to work with the union to “construct a roadmap” for future operations in the UK.
Unite said in response to JLR’s announcement: “Unite is in close dialogue with the company and will be monitoring the situation closely.
“Economic and Brexit uncertainty are contributing factors along with the Government’s confused policy on diesel engines.
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“Car workers and manufacturing communities will be looking to the government to provide certainty over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe and to get the economy out of the slow lane.
“Workers will also be looking for a clear strategy from Government ministers on how they will support and invest in cleaner engine systems, such as electric, and ensure the UK car industry remains a world leader.”