Britain’s biggest car maker, Jaguar Land Rover, has confirmed it has ramped-up vehicle production at its UK factories on the back of increasing orders worldwide.
The manufacturer cut around 1,100 agency jobs earlier this year as coronavirus forced car giants to operate with reduced staff numbers and after it hit global demand for new vehicles.
However, JLR says it has now restored a two-shift pattern at its UK plants in Solihull and Halewood car factories – as well as the engine plant in Wolverhampton – following a growth in demand in the three months ending in September.
Pumping-up production: Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed it will restore its two-shift working pattern at UK car factories
In June, the British marque said it would cut the agency worker jobs ‘in the coming months’ as part of plans to save £5billion.
The job losses were on top of the 5,000 roles that JLR already said it would cut last year.
The vehicle maker’s finances have been squeezed after the pandemic forced its factories and showrooms to close and dramatically impacted sales.
Revenues shrunk from £24.2billion to £23billion after the coronavirus crisis hammered sales, including in key Asian markets such as China.
When lockdown measures were first eased, JLR’s Solihill site, which produces the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F-Pace SUVs, was the first to return, with a reduced work force operating from 18 May.
The remaining facilities have followed, though all have been running with reduced capacity until now.
The Solihull plant (pictured) was the first JLR site to re-open following the Covid-19 lockdown, with staff returning on 18 May
While all of its car factories have returned, outputs have been hampered by coronavirus measures slowing outputs and reducing the number of staff allowed on site at one time
The move comes as the company reported a 53.3 per cent spike in sales in the three months ending September when compared to the previous quarter.
In total, JLR shifted 113,569 vehicles between July and September.
Bosses said the improved performance came off the back of demand for the new Land Rover Defender, with 4,508 units sold in September alone.
Demand for its latest range of mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid models is also up, as motorists look for alternatives to diesel engines, which JLR has historically been dependent on.
While sales in July to September 2020/2021 show a substantial increase on the previous period, it still remains 12 per cent down annually.
Two of the UK vehicle plants will restore their two-shift rotations, along the state-of-the-art factory in Nitra, Slovakia, where the new Land Rover Defender is being produced.
The Castle Bromwich car plant is continuing to operate with a single shift pattern for the time being.
Some 1,100 agency job losses were announced by JLR in June, with factories reducing to a single shift during the pandemic
A two-shift pattern will also return at the state-of-the-art factory in Nitra, Slovakia (pictured)
Felix Brautigam, JLR’s chief commercial officer, said: ‘Covid-19 and second lockdowns continue to impact the global auto industry but we are pleased to see sales recovering across our markets.
‘In China, the first region to come out of lockdown, our performance has been particularly encouraging. But we are also seeing strong improvement versus the preceding quarter in other key markets, with sales up more than 50 per cent worldwide.
‘The recovery has been demand-led and we are delighted that we have been able to reduce stocks to achieve ideal levels in most markets, despite the ongoing pandemic, to support a healthier and more profitable business for Jaguar Land Rover and its retailers.’
On Monday, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders warned the UK motor industry is ‘not in recovery’ as it posted disappointed September registration figures.
Sales of new cars fell by 4.4 per cent in September, marking the weakest performance for the ninth month since 1999 – when the dual plate change format was introduced to inflate appetite for new models.
The sector had pinned hopes on the arrival of the new 70 plate in September leading to a bumper month of sales to signal a return to growth following the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the industry posted its lowest registrations of new cars for the plate-change month on record.
Describing the current situation as ‘one of the bleakest periods in the sector’s history’, SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: ‘During a torrid year, the automotive industry has demonstrated incredible resilience, but this is not a recovery.’
Last week, JLR announced it will use materials made from recycled ocean plastic and landfill waste for the cabins of its future models as part of its brand-wide sustainability project.
Floor mats and interior trims made with Econyl fibre, which is constructed from recycled industrial plastic, fabric off-cuts from clothing manufacturers, fishing nets from the farming industry, and those abandoned in the ocean– known as ghost nets.
Jaguar Land Rover says the efforts are part of its ‘Destination Zero’ mission, with the use of the patented yarn said to reduce the environmental impact when making traditional nylon fabrics.