Tata Motors has made automotive history in Britain with the launch of Jaguar’s newest model XE, an entry-level luxury saloon car, at its factory in the West Midlands.
The factory at Solihull has traditionally been the home of sister brand Land Rover, but the first Jaguar XE saloon rolled off the all-new production facilities at the plant last week.
The £500-million, state-of-the-art “factory within a factory” consists of a new body shop and trim and final facilities.
The Tata Group’s investment in the unit represents the largest single investment in the Solihull plant in its 70-year history.
Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover’s UK managing director, said he hoped that in its first full year, the XE would double Jaguar’s present annual UK sales of 18,000.
“People who buy cars in this market stay very loyal. We are the new arrival in the playground and aiming to punch the three biggest kids on the nose,” he said.
“The XE will bring the average age of the Jaguar driver down significantly. We are accessing young professionals who have historically defaulted to the German brands because they have had nowhere else to go.”
The XE, dubbed the ‘Baby Jag’ for its compact size, is not the only Jaguar that will be made at the new Solihull unit. The F-Pace, unveiled earlier this year, will also be built at the new unit from next year.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was acquired by Tata Motors back in 2008 and has since seen a drastic turnaround in its profits.
In 2010, the Solihull plant, which started operations building aircraft engines during the Second World War, was in danger of closure.
Since then, a £1-billion investment into the iconic brands from Tata Motors has led it to treble production to 240,000 vehicles and double the workforce in the suburb of Birmingham to 9,000.
The XE and F-Pace could take annual output up by a further 50 per cent to 360,000, with manpower set to peak at 10,500.
JLR purchasing director Ian Harnett said: “Jaguar Land Rover is one of the UK’s success stories, not simply because it has seen an upsurge in demand thanks to sustained investment, but also because it has been able to support a burgeoning, high-tech, highly skilled supply base in the UK.”