Jaguar Land Rover has chosen Wolverhampton to base its new 800,000 sq ft engine plant in the biggest single boost to West Midlands manufacturing for a generation.
Bosses at the record-breaking vehicle maker have earmarked the new i54 Business Park at Pendeford as the site for a new engine facility to help drive the company’s burgeoning sales success.
The new plant will create about 600 new jobs and up to 400 more in the supply chain, the biggest single investment in West Midland manufacturing since BMW launched its engine plant at Hams Hall more than a decade ago.
Jaguar Land Rover aims to get the engine factory up and running within 18 months, and a second engine plant of a smaller capacity is set to be built in India as part of an overall £800 million vote of confidence by Tata in the Midlands firm.
It is understood that Tata Motors group chief executive Carl-Peter Forster and Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth – the duo who have transformed the firm’s fortunes in just over a year – met union officials to discuss the plans this week.
No official announcement has yet been made as Jaguar Land Rover lobbies the Government for financial aid towards the project while unions are still locked in talks over terms and conditions for the Wolverhampton site.
But a highly-placed source said: “They have got to buy the land by the end of June and they have got a good price on that. It’s absolutely fantastic news.
“They were looking at three sites, including one in Newport, South Wales, and one in Cardiff – they may have been looking for grants from the Welsh Assembly.
“They even looked at the Ryton site in Coventry which had great road access but that was written off pretty quickly and they chose the site in Wolverhampton in the end.
“This is brilliant for manufacturing, both from a national point of view, and particularly from the West Midlands point of view.
“We are talking about a total investment of £800 million across both plants for Wolverhampton and India.”
The investment is the biggest boost for the region’s manufacturing sector since BMW launched its own engine plant at Hams Hall, near Coleshill, over 10 years ago.
Since then, the West Midlands has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs as the sector has shrunk drastically in the face of overseas competition and falling sales, with major casualties including MG Rover, LDV, HP Sauce, the Alstom train-making plant, Jaguar at Browns Lane, Peugeot at Ryton and many others.