Jaguar car production at Halewood could rise to 250,000 during the early part of the next decade more than double the 100,000 level announced by Jaguar boss Nick Scheele in Detroit on Tuesday.
Industry analysts believe the market for a BMW 3 Series rival from Jaguar would support volume production, helped by economies from component sharing within the Ford empire.
BMW builds 400,000 units per year of its 3 Series saloon the third highest volume car built in Europe.
Analysts believe the Jaguar rival, codenamed X400 and due on the market in 2001, could match BMW’s costs at an even lower volume.
The floorpan looks likely to come from a US rear-wheel-drive Ford model, while engines will be adapted from mainstream Ford units.
‘BMW has perfected the pile them high and sell them expensively line,’ said Garel Rhys, professor of motor industry economics at the Cardiff Business School.
‘But at a volume of 250,000 cars at Halewood Jaguar could realise quite astonishing economies of scale from Ford’s global operations,’ he said.
The move to build the new Jaguar on Merseyside will safeguard 1,800 jobs at the Halewood plant, which has seen a dramatic change in its fortunes since the announcement a year ago that the new Ford Escort would not be built at the plant.
It will also require a major expansion at Ford’s engine plant at Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, where the present range of Jaguar engines is produced.
Ford will continue to manufacture vehicle transmissions at Halewood, using a separate plant.
Leader, page 8