Queen Elizabeth opens new Tata JLR plant in UK

Wolverhampton, Oct 30: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II drove up in a Tata Motors' Range Rover to inaugurate a new 500-million pound Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) engine plant here in the West Midlands region of England on Thursday.

The Queen, accompanied by husband Duke of Edinburgh and Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata, toured the state-of-the-art Engine Manufacturing Centre at i54 Business Park site near Wolverhampton before unveiling the inaugural plaque.

"This marks one of the most important days in this company's manufacturing history. It represents all that is great about British manufacturing and demonstrates the revitalisation of the Jaguar Land Rover business under the stewardship of the Tata Group," said Dr Ralf Speth, JLR CEO who led the royal guests on the tour of the new centre.

The 88-year-old Queen also met the employees currently employed at the plant, which will create 500 new jobs by 2015 and an estimated 1,400 jobs by 2016. Eventually, the world-class centre is expected to generate a total of 5,500 jobs in the supply chain as part of the company's strategic investment programme under Tata Motors ownership.

The opening has been described as a seminal moment in history for the iconic luxury car-maker rescued by the Indian automotive giant back in 2008, when it stepped in to acquire the struggling brands from Ford. After just six years, JLR is in a position to boost the automotive industry in Central England as it begins in-house engine production after nearly two decades since it last produced its own engines in April 1996.

It marks a remarkable turnaround from production and job cuts to nearly doubling sales and jobs under the firm's Indian ownership, recently recording a 2013/14 pre-tax profit of 2.5 billion pounds, up from 1.7 billion pounds a year before. Together the royal group viewed the sprawling 100,000 square metre machining and assembly halls and also met a number local school children who have embarked on Jaguar Land Rover's industry leading educational engineering apprenticeship programmes.

The new engines that will now be produced at the new centre by JLR are currently sourced from PSA (Peugeot Citroen) as part of a PSA and Ford joint venture and are currently produced in France and Spain.

While JLR will continue sourcing its other engines from Ford in the long-term, the in-house production is aimed at making the luxury brand more competitive and flexible to respond to market needs and eventually future-proof its models.


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