LONDON -- Jaguar Land Rover will build the Discovery Sport midsize SUV as a second model in its new China factory.
The UK luxury automaker will open the factory tomorrow with the Range Rover Evoque as the first production model.
Land Rover's director of programs, Murray Dietsch, said the Evoque and Discovery Sport will both be built in the factory, which is in Changshu, northeast of Shanghai.
Dietsch was speaking at a ceremony to mark the start of Discovery Sport production at JLR's factory in Halewood near Liverpool, England. The Discovery Sport is based on the Evoque and is being built on the same line as the Evoque at Halewood.
Dietsch gave no date for the start of Chinese production of the Discovery Sport and said the SUV will initially be imported into China. Land Rover hasn't officially confirmed the identify of the second model.
The Changshu plant has been built with JLR’s joint venture partner, Chery Automobile, and is the company’s first full-scale production facility outside of its UK base. It will have an annual capacity of 130,000 vehicles and also includes an engine plant that will start production in 2015.
China is a booming market for Jaguar Land Rover. The company sold 62,479 vehicles in China in the first half, representing almost one in four of its global sales. In 2013, the company sold 95,237 units in China, 30 per cent up on the previous year.
The Discovery Sport will go on sale in Europe at the start of next year, replacing the Freelander SUV.
Dietsch said the Discovery Sport will offer seven seats instead of five in the Freelander so it will be more competitive against rivals such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and BMW X3.