Jaguar Land Rover to cut production of best-selling models

Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to cut production of its best-selling Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport models.

The SUVs are produced at the group’s factory in Halewood on Merseyside where 4,000 people are employed.

The company has said the decision is in response to continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and crackdowns on diesel engine emissions.

The decision is the first setback in an almost unbroken run of success for the Evoque since its launch in 2010 and ironically follows an announcement just weeks ago of record sales for 2017.

However, despite success globally – especially in China – sales in the UK and Europe have been stagnating for some time as a response to economic trends and subdued consumer confidence.

The adjustment in output is set to be implemented between March and June, however, there is no suggestion yet of any redundancies or layoffs as a result of the changes.

Nevertheless, unions are monitoring the situation and Unite said it would seek talks with the manufacturer for greater clarity on its intentions.

JLR chief executive Ralf Speth was a leading advocate to remain in the EU prior to the referendum. The vote to leave brought into sharp focus concerns the group had about future trading with the single market, especially if punitive tariffs were to be introduced making its models less competitive.

JLR said what many vehicle manufacturers currently believe and that is that the automotive industry is continuing to face a range of challenges which are impacting consumer confidence.

It said ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit was being felt by customers both at home and in Europe, which collectively account for around 45% of the group’s total UK production.

Added to concerns around the future of petrol and diesel engines and the general economic uncertainty, then it said it had been clear why car sales generally were now struggling.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed new car registrations fell by 5.7% in the UK last year, with declining consumer confidence in the face of uncertainty posed by Brexit to blame.

JLR said it regularly reviewed production schedules according to demand and the latest move was a consequence of this.

Currently it is the only JLR plant to see such action, although the focus will now be on its West Midlands operations at Solihull and Castle Bromwich, plus its engine factory near Wolverhampton.

The Halewood announcement also marks further misery for automotive production in the North West, coming shortly after the decision by the new owner of Vauxhall, PSA Peugeot Citreon, to cut more jobs at its Astra factory in Ellesmere Port.

The loss of 250 jobs as the company switching to a single shift operation, is on top of the 400 job losses announced by the firm in October.