Triple blow to UK car industry on jobs and production

The Jaguar Land Rover site in Halewood on Merseyside
The Jaguar Land Rover site in Halewood on Merseyside

The car industry has suffered a triple blow as three of the UK’s biggest manufacturers announced job and production cuts.

Car giant Jaguar Land Rover is to reduce its 44,000 workforce by 4,500 under plans to make £2.5 billion of cost savings.

Most of the cuts will be in the UK, with a voluntary programme being launched, and are in addition to 1,500 workers who left the company last year.

Ford signalled “significant” cuts among its 50,000-strong European workforce under plans to make it more competitive and make its business more sustainable.

Japanese firm Honda later announced six non-production days in April under contingency plans to mitigate the risk of disruption to production at its Swindon factory after the UK leaves the EU.

“We are taking decisive action to help deliver long-term growth, in the face of multiple geopolitical and regulatory disruptions as well as technology challenges facing the automotive industry,” said Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth.

The company also announced further investment in electrification, with electric drive units to be built at its factory in Wolverhampton and a new battery assembly centre at Hams Hall in Birmingham.

JLR has sites in Halewood on Merseyside and Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.

In October last year, the car giant unveiled a £2.5bn turnaround plan that included cost cutting after Brexit uncertainty and slowing demand in China left it nursing a hefty second-quarter loss.

The firm, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, booked a £90m pre-tax loss in the three months to September 30, which compared with a £385m profit in the same period in 2017.

In China, demand was adversely impacted by consumer uncertainty following import duty changes and escalating trade tensions with the US.

In the UK, “continuing uncertainty related to Brexit” was blamed.

Ford started consultations with unions, with details of job cuts not expected until later in the year, although staff based at Warley in Essex will move to Dunton.

Steven Armstrong, Ford’s European group vice president, said the company was taking “decisive action” to transform its European business.

He said: “We will invest in the vehicles, services, segments and markets that best support a long-term sustainably profitable business, creating value for all our stakeholders and delivering emotive vehicles to our customers.”

New all-electric vehicles will be offered for all Ford models, while there will be a more “targeted” line-up of models in the future.”