Electric Jaguar XJ confirmed, to be built at Castle Bromwich

Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed its next-generation Jaguar XJ flagship saloon, launching next year, will be a pure electric model and will be built at its Castle Bromwich plant.

The firm announced the news on the day that production of the current XJ ends at the factory.

The electric XJ will be the first electric model produced at the plant, but Jaguar Land Rover said it plans to manufacture a “a range of new electrified vehicles” at the facility.

Jaguar Land Rover’s current electrified models, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrids, are built at its Solihull plant, while the electric Jaguar I-Pace is produced by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.

Autocar first reported that the next-generation XJ would go electric in 2015, but this is the first time that the Coventry-based firm has confirmed the bold move for its largest saloon.

It said the new XJ will “build on the characteristics synonymous with its predecessors – beautiful design, intelligent performance and revered luxury,” adding that it will be built by the same “expert team of designers and product development specialists responsible for delivering” the I-Pace.

Today’s announcement builds on JLR’s plans confirmed earlier this year to bring its battery and Electric Drive Unit assembly to the Midlands. The Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, opening in 2020, will be capable of producing 150,000 units annually, while the Wolverhampton Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC) is home of JLR’s global EDU production.

JLR, which announced 4500 job losses earlier this year, said the news “safeguards several thousand jobs in the UK”.

Work on Castle Bromwich will begin later this month in order to allow it to support JLR’s next-generation Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), which can house diesel and petrol vehicles alongside full electric and hybrid models.

JLR chief executive Ralf Speth said: “The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK.

“We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, Electronic Drive Units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands.”

Speth, when asked about the scale of the investment, commented: “When you get into new architectures like we have, you’re in to the billions, spread over years to come.”

Jaguar Land Rover said that while the expansion of its electrified line-up will see customers offered a greater choice, “increased consumer take-up remains a challenge”.

It called on government and industry to work together to bring a Tesla-esque giga-scale battery production facility to the UK to put the country at the “leading edge of electric mobility”.

Speth commented: “Convenience and affordability are the two key enablers to drive the uptake of electric vehicles to the levels that we all need. Charging should be as easy as re-fuelling a conventional vehicle.

“Affordability will only be achieved if we make batteries here in the UK, close to vehicle production, to avoid the cost and safety risk of importing from abroad. The UK has the raw materials, scientific research in our universities and an existing supplier base to put the UK at the leading edge of mobility and job creation.”