JLR Plans To Build Either Freelander Or Evoque Near Shanghai
Coming off a year in which Jaguar Land Rover reported a 91 percent rise in overall sales in China, owing largely to the massive popularity of the new Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport, this week the automaker announced that it plans to open a factory that will build two of its models in China — the company’s first full manufacturing plant outside the UK.
Pending final approval by the Chinese government, the factory is slated to open near Shanghai and will produce either the Freelander or Evoque, according to JLR chief executive Ralf Speth. However, Speth told the BBC that “very complex products” like the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport will “always be [built] here in the UK.” Currently, the Freelander is assembled in India from kits shipped from the UK, while the Land Rover Defender is assembled in a number of locations, among them Kenya. However, the China plant would be JLR’s first to manufacture and build completely abroad, using parts made in China.
Building in China to augment its current exports to the country is probably a good idea, considering the luxury SUV market is set to get even more contentious in the years ahead, with Aston Martin expected to revive its Lagonda SUV by 2014, Bentley recently debuting its EXP 9 F “Falcon”, and Lamborghini eying wealthy drivers in China and Russia with its URUS SUV. BMW also continues to expand its production base in China, and expects SUV and large sedan sales to push a 20 percent to 25 percent rise in sales in China for 2012.