Jaguar confirms new XJ and electric car plans in big UK car building boost

Jaguar has confirmed that the next generation XJ will feature an all-electric powertrain, and it will be built in the UK at Castle Bromwich

Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that the next generation XJ will be made in the UK at its Castle Bromwich production site, safeguarding thousands of jobs. The firm’s latest flagship saloon will feature an all-electric powertrain and will be built alongside a new range of electrified Jaguar models.

This latest announcement follows the British manufacturer’s pledge to offer electrified options for all its new models from 2020. The new XJ will be the first electric car produced at the brand’s re-tooled Castle Bromwich plant, being designed and developed by the same team responsible for Jaguar’s all-electric premium SUV, the I-Pace.

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Jaguar also aims to implement “giga-scale” battery production to support the project, with a new UK-based plant in Hams Hall, North Warwickshire. The facility will be operational by 2020 and aims to produce enough batteries to supply 150,000 electric Jaguar Land Rover models each year.

“If battery production goes out of the UK then automotive production will go out of the UK,” Jaguar Land Rover CEO explained. “The battery is 40 per cent of the cost of an electric vehicle – we want to keep this kind of added value inside the UK.”

Basing production of the all-electric XJ at Castle Bromwich also makes logistical sense to Jaguar Land Rover, offering easy access to the firm’s electric motor manufacturing centre in Wolverhampton. The experience of the plant’s current employees (who specialise in working with the XJ’s all-aluminium construction) will also prove invaluable.

Switching the XJ to a pure-electric powertrain will also allow Jaguar to steal yet another march on its German rivals, following the success of the I-Pace. That car arrived around a year before Mercedes or Audi managed to get the EQC and e-Tron to market – cars that are based on existing platforms instead of the Jaguar’s bespoke electric architecture.

Major investment

Britain’s biggest car maker has suffered a series of setbacks over the past 12 months, forced to  axe jobs and investment to boost profits amid dwindling sales due, in part, to JLR’s reliance on diesel, which has fallen out of favour with consumers.

The facility at Castle Bromwich will be completely overhauled during the summer. “I am delighted to announce a major electric vehicle offensive to be built at Castle Bromwich,” Ralf Speth told Auto Express. “This facility will give us flexibility to develop EVs and hybrid vehicles alongside our diesel cars, giving customers even greater choice.”

Asked about the size of the investment JLR had made at the site Speth added: “If you introduce new architectures it’s not millions but billions – it is spread over a number of years.” The first vehicle to be produced at the site will be the fully-electric, ninth-generation Jaguar XJ.

The investment at Castle Bromwich comes despite the UK’s uncertain future with the European Union after Brexit. Speth told Auto Express that the company had been given no assurances in the case of a no-deal Brexit and that the firm has “made the decision for the better of society and keeping production in the UK”.

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