Foreign investment provides multi-billion pound boost to West Midlands automotive industry

CHINESE and Indian investment is set to deliver a multi-billion pound boost to the automotive industry in the West Midlands, it has been announced.

Fresh from the news that Jaguar Land Rover has secured a new £4.5bn export deal with China for the production of 100,000 vehicles has come a clutch of new announcements of massive investment in the region by Chinese manufacturers.

The details have been announced following Prime Minister David Cameron’s top level trade mission to the country.

In addition to JLR, it has been announced that Chang’An Automobile Co Ltd, one of China’s so-called Big Four automotive operations, is to invest £60m into a new European Research and Development Centre in the West Midlands in a move that will create 300 new jobs.

The location of the new centre has not been revealed but in principle it sounds similar to the R&D facility established by MG-owner Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) at Longbridge.

In addition, Geely, which acquired the London Taxi International business in Coventry following its collapse last year, is to up its investment in the region to £80m.

It plans to bring a new green TX5 taxi into production over the next five years with £30m set aside for a new manufacturing facility and the remaining £50m being pumped into new R&D on the next generation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles.

As a result of its production expansion then there are hopes the company will increase the size of its UK workforce, which could mean vital new jobs for Coventry.

Elsewhere, the MIRA research facility in Nuneaton is celebrating its second major announcement in as many weeks. It was revealed last week that Swedish automotive firm Haldex is to create its new European Technical Centre at the MIRA Technology Park.

The engineering consultancy has now been awarded contracts worth in excess of £2m from Geely to consult on the design of its new vehicle.

In addition to these, JLR owner Tata Motors has confirmed its long term commitment to advanced R&D in the UK through the participation of its subsidiary, Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), in the £100m National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC) at the University of Warwick.

TMETC will be joined in the NAIC project by its partners, JLR and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG).

Tata has announced it will invest £30m into the project, alongside the support of JLR, WMG and the Government’s Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE).

Speaking on the investments, Trade Secretary Vince Cable said: “Increasing trade with China and other fast growing markets will help us to build a stronger economy. Our Industrial Strategy is providing the confidence for continued investment in key sectors of the UK economy.

“It is particularly encouraging to see increasing business today for the success story that is the UK automotive industry from companies like Jaguar Land Rover, Chang’An Automobile Co, Geely Automotive and McLaren. All are helping to create more private sector jobs outside of London.”