London - Jaguar would invest $2.4 billion (R24bn) in a new range of lightweight aluminium sports sedans and crossover sports utility vehicles aimed at the mass market, creating 1 700 jobs in the UK, the luxury car maker said yesterday.
The spending is part of a move to launch more affordable models from 2015 to emulate the success of lower-cost luxury vehicles made by its sister company Land Rover, and will better position it to compete with its larger German rivals.
Jaguar, part of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) group owned by India’s Tata Motors, said the investment could create another 24 000 supply chain jobs.
“The creation of 1 700 new jobs and £1.5bn (R23.5bn) investment by JLR is a great vote of confidence in the British economy,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter.
British car sales rose by 11 percent year on year last month, the 18th consecutive month of growth. Finance Minister George Osborne said on Monday that the UK economy had turned the corner.
JLR has roared back to health in the four years since Tata Motors bought the group from Ford for $2.3bn.
It has escaped the cycle of plant shutdowns and falling production at many European car makers by tapping into growing demand for luxury cars in emerging markets.
JLR said August sales rose 28 percent from a year earlier to 27 852 vehicles.
Despite falling sales at home amid a sluggish Indian economy, Tata Motors shares surged as much as 10 percent to a record high yesterday.
Car makers worldwide are expanding into so-called premium crossover vehicles, seeking to tap demand for models combining the functionality of 4x4s with the comfort and performance of luxury cars.
Jaguar said it would spend to design systems to help it introduce new one-piece “aluminium vehicle architecture”.
A Jaguar sports sedan, due to be launched in 2015, will be the first to feature the new technology. Next up will be Jaguar’s first sports crossover vehicle, called the C-X17, also featuring an aluminium frame, which is being shown at the Frankfurt car show this week. – Reuters