London -  Jaguar Land Rover is poised to expand its electric vehicle portfolio from next year, starting with the next-generation XJ.

The firm is expected to make a formal announcement this week that its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham will make an eco-friendly version of its XJ saloon.

Due for launch in 2020, the all-electric XJ will be able to travel around 480km on a single charge. Following on from Jaguar's first electric vehicle, the I-Pace, the XJ will be the first of three additional EVs planned by Jaguar, with a large SUV coming next and a third model also being discussed.

The new XJ is seen as a competitor to high-end electric marques such as Tesla, and insiders at Jaguar hope it will appeal to businessmen -especially Chinese - with chauffeurs.

It comes as the British brand seeks to save £2.5bn (R44.6bn) a year by axing 4500 jobs.

Jaguar lost £3.6bn (R64.2bn) in the year to March, driven by sharp falls in demand for its vehicles, particularly those powered by diesel engines.

It sold 579 000 cars in total, down 5.8 percent – with the important Chinese market suffering a 34.1 percent plunge.

Batteries for the electric vehicles will come from Jaguar’s Hams Hall plant in Birmingham, and electric motors will be made at its Wolverhampton engine factory.

The decision will come as a huge relief for staff at Castle Bromwich, a former Spitfire aircraft plant. Employees agreed last month to work a four-day week as part of restructuring plans as manufacturing of the current XJ model comes to an end.

Castle Bromwich will continue making XE and XF saloons alongside the new model.

Other car firms have been cutting back in Britain and Europe as the market shrinks and fears grow that trade could be disrupted by a No Deal Brexit.

Jaguar declined to comment.

Daily Mail