Wednesday, 25 March 2015

. . . And boosts the power of Whitley

JaguarLandRover(JLR) is to expand its advanced engineering and design centre at Whitley, Coventry, doubling its footprint at the location. 

The latest multi-million pound investment will house highly-skilled product development engineers and support the company’s creation of high technology ultra-low emission vehicles for its customers in 180 markets around the world.

JLR has completed purchase of an additional 62 acres at Whitley, more than doubling the current 55-acre site. 

The significance of the development is two-fold quite apart from the fact the expansion will help ensure the sustainable growth of JGL, with the development of ultra-low emission technologies, especially new down-sizing and down-weighting engine technologies.

Whitley’s unique location in the JLR business structure not only puts at the centre of an area where it can recruit and house key research and development people, but secondly Whitley is but a stone’s throw from the mew NAIC – the National Automotive Innovation Centre – which is almost certain to have a near daily interaction with Whitley.

Having key engineers is such close proximity, despite all the most modern means of digital communication, is an important asset. The £150 million NAIC is a quite astonishing investment and, while it is labelled a “national” centre there can be no doubt that one company above all others in the UK will benefit most from this concentration of talent – namely JLR.

For the NAIC is nothing less than a thinly disguised adjunct to JLR’s resources, even though technically speaking it is a partnership between the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) and UK Government's Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE). Its embryo was the WAG followed by Tata Motor’s European Technical Centre.

Dr Ralf Speth, JLR's chief executive officer, referring to the Whitley expansion noted: “Design leadership, technical innovation and engineering excellence lie at the heart of this responsible business and we are committed to investing in the skills needed to continue this success into the future.  Great people and great products are the essence of this great British company.”

JLR has more than doubled its workforce in the last five years, creating 18,000 new jobs.  Some 8,000 engineers and technologists are based at its two UK engineering and design centres at Gaydon and Whitley and an advanced research centre at the University of Warwick.  The company supports around 210,000 additional jobs through its dealerships, suppliers and local businesses.

The company needs an influx of new talent to handle the range of new products set to flow from the company’s design offices.

In the financial year to the end of March 2016 the business will spend over £3bn on product creation and capital expenditure, launching 12 major new product actions. 

The company’s strategy will see 50 major new and model year vehicle upgrades over the next five years. 

Recent examples of low emission technologies developed by Jaguar Land Rover include the company’s industry-leading expertise in aluminium and lightweight technologies; and its Ingenium engine family of high technology ultra-low emission four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which will power a new generation of JLR products including the latest Jaguar XF.   
JLR is also investing in people, including its award-winning and well-established apprenticeship and graduate programmes, which have attracted some 2,000 people over the past four years.  Almost 7,000 employees are currently undertaking academic and vocational qualifications ranging from NVQ2s to PhDs. 

Of those, over half are following undergraduate or postgraduate level studies.  This approach also extends to the wider automotive supply chain, with JLR leading a number of initiatives on wider skills development.   

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman and founder of WMG at the University of Warwick, welcomed the Whitley expansion saying: WMG is a significant technology partner of Jaguar Land Rover and it is very clear to us that Jaguar Land Rover’s continuous investment in developing the technologies of the future outstrips others in the sector. The company’s role in developing the innovation infrastructure here will help the UK, and Jaguar Land Rover, remain at the forefront of global innovation in manufacturing and engineering for decades to come.”

And no one knows more about what is going on within the leadership of Tata Motors and JLR than Professor Lord Bhattacharyya.

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