Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc, the UK’s largest car manufacturer, has receiving backing from Coventry City Council for the UK government to invest £450 million in Midlands infrastructure so that the carmaker can go forward with its planned expansion in the region.
JLR wants to build a new generation of the vehicles along with the batteries that will power them in the UK, but stressed that the plan requires big improvements in local infrastructure and significant additional power resources.
The company challenged the government for £450 million investment in Midlands infrastructure in return for up to 10,000 jobs.
Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle said it was important the government “stepped up to the plate”. “We want to be at the forefront of this new technology, we don’t want it to go abroad,” he said.
Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive Dr Ralf Speth said at an industry event that the firm would like to double production from 500,000 to one million cars a year and make the UK a global leader in electric cars.
“The German government wants to be ahead in this [electric technology]. We are in a race. Either we win or we lose,” Speth said.
The FT reports that business secretary Greg Clark was at the meeting and said the UK government “couldn’t be more aligned” with JLR’s ambitions for electric vehicles.
The carmaker’s first electric car, the Jaguar I-Pace, is going to be manufactured in Austria using third-party group Magna. However, the batteries for the I-Pace are being developed in the UK by JLR and Warwick Manufacturing Group.
Speth said he wanted to build JLR’s electric models in the UK. “We want to build our EVs [electric vehicles] in the West Midlands, in the home of our design and engineering,” he said. “This is why we must bring battery R&D and production to the UK.”
The carmaker recently submitted planning application for huge expansion at its global headquarters in Whitley – a 325,000 sq ft development for office, design, engineering and vehicle testing space and car parking.
According to the Coventry Telegraph, there will also be “fuel farm building, an electricity substation and alterations to the existing mileage accumulation facility.”
Documents supporting the application state: “Given Jaguar Land Rover’s current and anticipated future business needs it is considered the development of a new powertrain development facility at this location is a better and more appropriate use of the land contained to the south of the existing site.”