Jaguar Land Rover set to build electric cars in UK

Jaguar cars at a dealer outlet in London. Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will manufacture an all-electric version of the Jaguar XJ sedan in the UK. (AP)
Updated 06 July 2019
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Jaguar Land Rover set to build electric cars in UK

  • Vehicle production will secure thousands of jobs in boost to post-Brexit Britain

LONDON: Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has decided to produce a range of electric vehicles at its central England factory, it announced Friday, securing thousands of jobs in a major boost to post-Brexit Britain.

“Jaguar Land Rover today revealed plans to manufacture a range of new electrified vehicles at its manufacturing plant in Castle Bromwich, UK,” the Indian-owned group said in a statement.

The facility in Birmingham, Britain’s second biggest city, will produce the electric vehicles in an investment worth £1 billion ($1.3 billion) according to the Financial Times.

The first car to roll off the production line at Castle Bromwich, which currently employs 2,500 workers, will be the next-generation all-electric Jaguar XJ luxury saloon model.

The news is a welcome fillip for the nation’s largely foreign-owned car sector, which has long warned over the impact of Britain’s looming departure from the EU at the end of October.

FASTFACT

 

• £70m - Britain’s auto sector has said that a no-deal Brexit could cost UK-based carmakers up to £70 million ($89 million) daily through delays to production.

Batteries will be made in neighboring Hams Hall, Warwickshire, while electric motors will be manufactured at JLR’s engine plant close to the nearby city of Wolverhampton.

“Today’s announcement, which safeguards several thousand jobs in the UK, is the next stage in execution of Jaguar Land Rover’s electrification strategy,” JLR added.

The group aims to offer electrified options for all new Jaguar and Land Rover models by 2020.

“The future of mobility is electric and as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK,” said JLR Chief Executive Ralf Speth.

The investment, praised as “trailblazing” by Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, follows an agreement for employees to work a four-day week as part of restructuring plans.

“This is a proud day for our members and Jaguar Land Rover,” said Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing.

Cardiff University professor Peter Wells cautioned that Brexit was probably not a major factor in JLR’s decision, given its existing UK manufacturing operations and declining consumer demand for high-polluting diesel cars.

“The company is constrained by what they’ve got ... it’s not really a Brexit-related decision,” Wells told AFP.

“It’s more an issue that has been forced upon the company, perhaps faster than they had wanted.

“The market is changing across the world quicker than many car companies have anticipated, so in that respect the company was essentially forced to invest in the UK — even though it’s not perhaps ideal in terms of reaching those key European markets.”

Britain’s auto sector had warned last week that a no-deal Brexit could cost UK-based carmakers up to £70 million ($89 million) daily through delays to production.

JLR, which launched its first electric vehicle I-PACE last year, is meanwhile late to develop its strategy for the segment.

“It is not alone in being late ... but certainly, given that the Nissan Leaf has been out for many years now, and Tesla has been making waves for some time in the kind of segments that Jaguar and Land Rover operate in, then clearly there is concern,” Wells said.

“It’s not so easy to ramp up the production of electric vehicles at this point because of concerns over supply — the battery technology and the materials needed.


South Korea downgrades Japan trade status as dispute deepens

Updated 56 min 48 sec ago

South Korea downgrades Japan trade status as dispute deepens

  • The change comes a week after South Korea initiated a complaint to the World Trade Organization
  • The new measures in effect mean it might take up to 15 days for South Korean companies to gain approvals to export sensitive materials to Japan

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea on Wednesday dropped Japan from a list of countries receiving fast-track approvals in trade, a reaction to Tokyo’s decision to downgrade Seoul’s trade status amid a tense diplomatic dispute.
South Korea’ trade ministry said Japan’s removal from a 29-member “white list” of nations enjoying minimum trade restrictions went into effect as Seoul rearranged its export control system covering hundreds of sensitive materials that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.
The change comes a week after South Korea initiated a complaint to the World Trade Organization over a separate Japanese move to tighten export controls on key chemicals South Korean companies use to manufacture semiconductors and displays.
Seoul has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate against South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to offer reparations to South Koreans forced into labor during World War II. Tokyo’s measures struck a nerve in South Korea, where many still resent Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
According to South Korean trade ministry, the new measures in effect mean it might take up to 15 days for South Korean companies to gain approvals to export sensitive materials to Japan, compared to the five days or less it took under a simpler inspection process provided for favored trade partners.
Lee Ho-hyeon, a South Korean trade ministry official, said the change would affect about 100 local firms that export items such as telecommunications security equipment, semiconductor materials and chemical products to Japan. He said Seoul will work to minimize disruption to South Korean companies.
Japan for decades has enjoyed a huge trade surplus with South Korea, an economy that’s much more dependent on exports. Many major manufacturers heavily rely on parts and materials imported from Japan.
But the dispute is taking a toll. Exports to South Korea from Japan fell 9.4% last month, Japan’s Finance Ministry reported Wednesday.
The trade dispute between the neighbors erupted in July, when Japan imposed tighter export controls on three chemicals South Korean companies use to produce semiconductors and displays for smartphones and TVs, major export items for South Korea. It cited unspecified security concerns over Seoul’s export controls.
A few weeks later, Japan dropped South Korea from its own trade “white list,” triggered a full-blown diplomatic dispute that took relations between the US allies to their worst in decades.
The dispute has spilled over to security issues, with Seoul declaring it plans to terminate a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that symbolized the countries’ three-way security cooperation with the United States in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s growing influence.
Following an angry reaction from Washington, Seoul later said it could reconsider its decision to end the military agreement, which remains in effect until November, if Japan relists South Korea as a favored trade partner.
Seoul announced its plans to downgrade Tokyo’s trade status in August before holding a 20-day period to gather opinions on the decision, during which the Japanese government voiced opposition to the move it described as “arbitrary and retaliatory,” Lee said.
He said Seoul needs to strengthen controls on shipments to a country that’s “hard to cooperate with” and fails to uphold “basic international principles” while managing export controls on sensitive materials.
South Korea previously divided its trade partners into two groups in managing export controls on sensitive materials. Following Wednesday’s change, South Korea now has an in-between bracket where it placed only Japan, which would mostly receive the same treatment in trade as the non-favored nations in what had been the second group.