Jaguar is planning to recruit a large number of engineers over the coming year, as the company continues to buck the trend for job losses in the automotive industry.
The company has been through a dramatic expansion in recent years. Three years ago the company was producing two models, at volumes of around 40,000 a year. It now has four models with a fifth planned, and expects production to increase from over 100,000 this year to 200,000 in 2002.
This rapid increase in production has led to a similar expansion in staff numbers. Jaguar’s product development team is now 1,600 strong, with an extra 200 staff recruited in the last two years alone.
Mike Lawrence, business director, product development, says the company has an aggressive growth plan. ‘We have recruited a number of engineers and there will be further growth as we look to the future. We have a strong brand, and because of that we have been able to grow by improving our existing cars and adding new ones, while other manufacturers have had problems.’
The company’s engineers are based at its Whitley, Coventry, site, which designs and develops all existing and future Jaguar cars. According to Lawrence, the way engineers at the company design and develop cars has also been evolving in recent years, with more use of virtual reality and simulation techniques. ‘We want people to see the engineering of cars as dynamic and high-tech, rather than as something staid and rooted in the 1970s.’
The company is now planning to take on Mercedes and BMW in the premium car market. Professor Peter Cooke, head of the Centre for Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Business School, said the recent success of Jaguar has been driven by its access to Ford’s systems and business approach. ‘The brand has been carefully placed in the market, and with the resources and technology of Ford behind it, the company can now go for the volumes it needs, while maintaining the Jaguar quality.’