Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The Queen to open JLR’s Ingenium plant
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has confirmed that Her Majesty the Queen will officially open the company’s new, state-of-the-art Engine Manufacturing Centre on Thursday October 30 2014. HM The Queen will be accompanied during the visit by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
Insiders have been working hard behind the scenes to secure sure leading figures to open the facility and thereby focus world-wide attention on the company and its products, including the Ingenium engine family, the first engine family produced by the company in the history of many working in the company.
The opening of the £500million Engine Manufacturing Centre near Wolverhampton is a seminal moment for JLR as it embarks on manufacturing in-house engines for the first time in a generation, cementing its position as the UK’s most significant automotive investor. It is a seminal moment too for Indian Tata Motors, the owners of JLR.
The new facility is home to the Ingenium engine family which will power a new generation of JLR products designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK. This starts with the 2-litre diesel in the Jaguar XE. All Ingenium four-cylinder engines -diesel and gasoline - have a deep-skirt aluminium cylinder block with thin-wall, press-fit cast iron liners. According to Ron Lee, group chief powertrain engineer, "These offer the best balance of weight, surface finish and robustness." At present there are two ratings: 163PS and 380Nm torque, carefully calibrated to give the magic 99g/km; and 180PS and 430Nm torque. Ford engineers at the Dunton Technical Centre, Essex, UK, will be striving hard to better these figures with their Panther passenger car version 2-litre diesel, bearing in mind Ford Motor Company once owned Land Rover, Jaguar Cars, Aston Martin and Volvo Cars in Europe and Lincoln and Mercury as part of its Premier Automotive Group (PAG). PAG ran from 1999 to 2010, for many of the early years under the leadership of Wolfgang Reitzle from an office in London; Reitzle was formerly of BMW where he rose to the No. 2 position before leaving to join PAG. Of these two 2-litre diesel engines, Ford and JLR, it will be interesting to see which will emerge as the benchmark.
It is a seminal moment too for the many suppliers which have taken part in the engine programme, including those suppliers which have worked behind the scenes under the cloak of secrecy, not only to help in the development of the diesel and gasoline engines, but also to supply the shop-floor manufacturing equipment and which, for the first time, will get unprecedented exposure and will no longer be able to hide under the blanket of tight security which enfolds every engine programme.
Engine makers, most notably, seem everlastingly keen to hide suppliers’ names from the outside world, only to reveal them when forced by public events. Such antics stretch even to the point of the names of foundries and their suppliers. The chain can be endless. Machine tool suppliers, and other major equipment suppliers, would treasure any Press exposure to the invaluable work they are doing, but more often than not they are gagged by ridiculous non-disclosure clauses in their contracts which forbid them from talking to the Press about their work, even when an engine programme has been announced. Everyone in the industry knows when ABC Company has won a major controct from XYZ OEM, so why keep 'stum'? Yet machine tool, and other shop-floor suppliers, especially are the unsung heroes of engine manufacture; for, whatever the run-up design and development and their implications, without the hardware vendors the precision components required in today’s engines would not be made in the cycle times required or to the high standards of precision required by emissions requirements.
And it is not confined to engine and transmission work; the same applies to body-in-white manufacture where similar ridiculous non-disclosure agreements are in place, with no supplier daring to reveal that it has supplied equipment to a particular vehicle programme until it has received the green light from the OEM. This is sometimes long after the vehicle has been officially launched. It has ever been thus - the vendor must never be seen to climb to a height greater than that of the OEM! Some things never change, despite advances in technology; it is the nature of PR people and the hierarchy of those who sit above them.