Car cuts

Jaguar Land Rover is to cease production of its X-Type car and cut 300 jobs from its Halewood plant following weak sales in the auto industry.

The Tata Motors-owned company said that the jobs cuts would be voluntary, however, it would implement a temporary shutdown of the Halewood plant in Merseyside for three weeks as a result of ongoing difficulties in the market.

David Smith, chief executive at Jaguar, said: ‘Our industry has been especially badly hit by the recession and the premium sector more than others. Jaguar Land Rover’s retail sales fell by 28 per cent in the past 10 months.

‘We have taken unprecedented actions to cut costs, including reduced production volumes, significant cuts to investment plans and some 2,200 job losses. Ceasing production of the X-Type early, with further redundancies and temporary shutdowns at Halewood, is necessary to protect our other investment plans.’

The group added that further action will be determined by the state of the market and the speed at which the already-approved €340m (£292m) European Investment Bank loan could be drawn.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), said: ‘Let’s be clear, this is the earlier-than-planned end of X-Type production, a premium car that has understandably struggled to sell in the significant numbers required to make it viable for Jaguar Land Rover, during this challenging economic period.

‘Looking ahead, the factory is well positioned to manufacture the exciting new Range Rover ,which is based on the LRX concept, so this is not the end of Halewood by a long shot.’

As well as the new LRX concept, Jaguar has launched the XJ model, which will be manufactured at its existing factory in Castle Bromwich. A spokesperson for Jaguar said that it was too early to predict orders but added that volumes were not forecast to be huge.

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: ‘These jobs are going because production of the baby Jaguar is coming to an end so it is critical that we get new product into that plant as a replacement in the immediate future. A new product is pivotal to the long-term future of the Halewood plant.’