As demand for luxury cars wanes, UK's JLR plant to remain shut for 2 weeks

A tyre is seen on Jaguar Land Rover's I-PACE concept car on display ahead of it's 2018 production launch | Reuters

Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) on Monday revealed plans for a two-week shutdown of its West Midlands plant at the end of October to cope with weakening global demand for its luxury vehicles.

JLR, however, stressed that it would not mean any job losses at the plant in Solihull, with workers continued to be paid during the shutdown period.

"As part of the company's continued strategy for profitable growth, Jaguar Land Rover is focused on achieving operational efficiencies and will align supply to reflect fluctuating demand globally as required," a JLR statement said.

"The decision to introduce a two-week shutdown period later this month at Solihull is one example of actions we are taking to achieve this. Customer orders in the system will not be impacted and employees affected will be paid for the duration of the shutdown," it said.

The Solihull plant, where the Tata Group company produces its Range Rover and Jaguar models, will close from October 22.

It follows a move to a three-day week for around 2,000 workers at the firm's Castle Bromwich plant and an announcement in April to lay off 1,000 workers across its West Midlands' units.

Describing news of the two-week shutdown as "deeply troubling", Unite the UK's biggest union for car workers blamed the government's incompetence over its policies around diesel vehicles and Brexit negotiations for the continued stress on the country's car industry.

"Over the past decade Jaguar Land Rover workers have worked tirelessly to turn the carmaker's fortunes around. Ministers now risk turning them and their colleagues in the supply chain from hero to zero," said Unite national officer Des Quinn.

"The government must secure their future by getting a Brexit deal that secures frictionless tariff free trade with Europe. At the same time ministers must repair the damage done over diesel by supporting a just transition' to electric and alternative power vehicles as part of an industrial strategy," he said.

The news of the shutdown came as JLR released its September sales figures, which marked a12.3 per cent year on year drop. Sales in China declined by 46.2 per cent, which the UK's biggest car-maker blamed on ongoing market uncertainty resulting from import duty changes and continued trade tensions.

"As a business we are continuing to experience challenging conditions in some of our key markets. Customer demand in China in particular has struggled to recover following changes in import tariffs in July and intensifying competition on price, while ongoing global negotiations on potential trade agreements have dampened purchase considerations," said Felix Brautigam, JLR Chief Commercial Officer.

The company said it expected lower tariffs on UK imports to be beneficial over the course of the year, with Brautigam highlighting positive customer response to new Jaguar products.

"The all-electric I-PACE and the sporty E-PACE compact SUV in particular, which have only recently joined our line-up in China, are driving demand globally," he said.

For Land Rover models, the company highlighted strong customer demand for the new Range Rover Velar and Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Plug-in Hybrid variants.

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