£1bn vote of confidence for JLR Halewood

The new Range Rover Evoque

Car giant Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has confirmed that its Halewood plant, on Merseyside, will build the next version of the highly-successful Range Rover Evoque model.

The car is a ‘baby’ version of the model the plant has built since the first Evoque rolled off its production lines in 2011.

JLR says it demonstrates the group’s commitment to the UK and involves £1bn of investment.

The Speke plant directly employs 4,000 staff, and uses around 2,000 contract workers.

Halewood has built around 725,000 Evoques over the past seven years.

Confirmation of the new model, which was officially launched in London tonight (November 22) will safeguard the plant’s future for years, against a backdrop of uncertainty over how Brexit could affect the UK’s major motor manufacturers.

In July, JLR chief executive Dr Ralf Speth said the manufacturer will have to shift investment and close plants in the UK if the Brexit deal isn’t right.

Announcing the new model, Dr Speth said: “The Range Rover Evoque has been a fundamental driver in Jaguar Land Rover’s global success.

“Since it first rolled off the Halewood production line we have exported 80% of all we have made.

“Our commitment to UK production remains firm and the new Evoque benefits from a £1bn investment.

“With this, we are introducing new technology and Range Rover refinement into the luxury compact SUV segment that the original model created.”

JLR said of the new Evoque: “An entirely new architecture delivers Range Rover refinement, with agile on-road handling and world class off-road capability.”

New technology offered with the latest model includes ClearSight Rear View technology allowing drivers to see the road, even if there are passengers or large objects on the back seat.

Rear-view mirrors can turn into a smart screen showing the view from a camera positioned above the rear window.

Stuart Lord, operations director at JLR Halewood, said:“The new Evoque is not just hugely important for our plant, but also the whole Liverpool City Region.

“The plant has benefited from hundreds of millions of investment to support its production, which in turn has helped to boost the local economy and safeguard the future of the plant, demonstrating JLR’s commitment to the UK.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Halewood as we embark on building the next generation of this award-winning car and I am confident it will be a continued success.”

The new model will offer a hybrid option for the first time. Part of the investment at Halewood is in technology to install the new hybrid-electric engines.

The importance of Halewood to UK industry is illustrated by the plant’s links with 348 suppliers who, between them, deliver 5m parts to the site every week.

JLR says more than £4bn in contracts have already been placed with UK companies to support production of the new Evoque.

Prices for the new ‘baby’ Evoque start at £31,600 and first deliveries are expected early next year.