bne IntelliNews -
Ending, or perhaps extending, the speculation over a big potential greenfield investment in an assembly plant in Central Europe, Indian-owned carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced on July 2 plans to manufacture some models via a partnership in Austria.
JLR, owned by Tata Motors, said it has agreed a manufacturing partnership with contract auto producer Magna Steyr. Magna will build as-yet-unnamed new models under the famous British marque in Graz. The news will disappoint officials across the Visegrad region; the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have all been vying to host a factory for the car builder in recent months.
The partnership with Magna will relieve the pressure on JLR's three UK plants, which are already close to their operating capacity, the company said in a statement.
"This agreement will allow us to expand our award-winning model range," CEO Dr Ralf Speth said. JLR has committed to bring a dozen new or refreshed models to market over the course of 2015-16.
The company adds that it has doubled sales to more than 462,000 vehicles over the past five years. It has also doubled employment to more than 35,000 people and invested more than £10bn in new product creation and capital expenditure.
The Visegrad countries have been jostling for some of those jobs, although the speculation has been flying in every direction. JLR's ultimate choice of destination has swapped around on a weekly basis, depending on which country's press is reporting.
"A variety of disinformation is appearing. I wouldn't pay heed to what Polish, Czech, Hungarian or Slovak media come up with," Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in late May as he insisted that reports that his country had fallen out of the race were wide of the mark.
Some media claim the carmaker has not given up on plans to build a factory in Central Europe. It will allow the firm more time to search for its own bespoke factory, writes autocar.co.uk.
The deal with Magna will then presumably give the four competing countries, all of which host thriving auto sectors that are central to their economies, more time to come up with better offers. Autocar quoted unnamed sources as it reported that it is now just Hungary and Poland in the race.
Slovakia, which already hosts plants run by Germany’s Volkswagen, France’s PSA Peugeot-Citroen and South Korea’s Kia Motors, still believes it has a chance, however, and is even amending its legislation to make itself more attractive.
“We are in the final round; we have a chance to get this investment,” Economy Minister Vazil Hudak said last week when introducing a draft revision to the law governing state aid for big investors.
The revision would make it possible to speed up processes such as construction permits for investments of significance, Hudak said. Slovak media report that JLR’s investment is set to create 8,000 new jobs.
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