Jaguar Land Rover is to end production of its Discovery off-roader at its Solihull plant, near Birmingham in the UK, and move the work to its impressive new factory in Nitra, Slovakia, currently under construction and due to be completed by the end of this year.
The Slovakia plant – construction of which was first announced in 2015 – was originally meant to complement UK production of the Discovery. Now it will replace it entirely, a significant show of confidence in Slovakia’s booming automotive industry.
“The decision to move the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia and the potential losses of some agency-employed staff in the U.K. is a tough one but forms part of our long-term manufacturing strategy as we transform our business globally,” said Jaguar Land Rover in a statement. The luxury car maker is owned by Indian multinational Tata.
Although car production in Slovakia fell slightly to 1.03 million vehicles in 2017 from 1.04 million the year before, the country’s automotive industry is in excellent shape. Slovakia is already home to three car plants run by Volkswagen, Kia and Peugeot. Production over the past decade has increased fivefold, and the country produces 105 cars per 1000 people: the highest per capita car production rate in the world. The automotive sector accounts for 44 per cent of Slovakia’s industrial output.
The Jaguar Land Rover site is expected to have a capacity of 300,000 vehicles per year.
Jaguar’s announcement follows news that Chinese electric car manufacturer Zhi Dou was reported to be looking for a European location to build a new plant, with Slovakia one of its preferred options.