LONDON - Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. said it intends to build electric cars in the U.K. if the government can overcome shortfalls in available energy and infrastructure investment, potentially giving Britain a manufacturing boost as it leaves the European Union.
Jaguar Land Rover’s expression of interest in building electric cars in the U.K. follows a commitment by Nissan Motor Co. to continue manufacturing at a plant in Sunderland, England, after the Japanese company said it might ask the U.K. government to compensate it for any negative consequences of Brexit.
Jaguar Land Rover, which employs about 40,000 people in the U.K., said it aimed to build new facilities and lift its payroll in the country, without committing to a specific number of jobs. The expansion could create around 10,000 positions, said Martin Yardley, chief executive officer of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which promotes the economy in the region where many of Jaguar Land Rover’s U.K. operations are clustered.
Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth is moving to double the number of vehicles produced worldwide to 1 million a year. The company, owned by Tata Motors Ltd. of India, plans to build its first electric vehicle at a plant in Austria owned by Magna International Inc. and have it on the road by 2018.
Speth said he wants future electric models to be built in the U.K. while cautioning that current levels of power supply are insufficient to produce those cars. He also said the company would require mobile network investments that could help with the development of autonomous vehicles.
“We want to build our electric vehicles in the West Midlands, in the home of our design and engineering,” Speth said in a speech Thursday. “If we double the cars we can double the workforce.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday announced £390 million ($485 million) of funding over the next five years to support ultralow emission vehicles, including £80 million for charging networks. Jaguar Land Rover already invests about £3.5 billion in research and development each year, a spokesman said.
If Jaguar Land Rover goes ahead with the U.K. plans, it would create about 7,500 jobs in the Coventry area through 2020, Yardley said in a telephone interview Friday, though about 2,500 of those positions would be moved from elsewhere in the country.
The payroll would be boosted by a further 5,000 in the following decade, he said.
The expansion could also create 50,000 to 100,000 additional jobs in the automotive supply chain and service industries, Yardley said.
“As an industry it’s incredibly productive because it has a higher ratio of indirect jobs than other industries,” he said.