HALEWOOD, England -- Range Rover Evoque production in China will not reduce output at the UK factory where the SUV is also built, the plant’s operations director said.
The Evoque is the first local production model built in Jaguar Land Rover’s new 130,000-unit-a-year factory in Changshu, about 110km (70 miles) northwest of Shanghai.
The compact premium SUV's main production plant is in Halewood, northwest England, where it is produced alongside the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which likely will be the second model built at the Changshu factory.
Last year 180,000 Evoques and Freelanders were built at the Halewood factory, putting it at maximum capacity use, plant boss Richard Else said. Halewood has just began production of the Discovery Sport, which replaces the Freelander early next year.
Else said growth in China’s premium SUV market means there is enough work for both plants. “We don’t envisage any reduction of volume. China is very much about growth,” he told Automotive News Europe at a press event at the Halewood factory.
IHS Automotive forecasts that Chinese demand for premium SUVs will double to 1.2 million units by 2020, with 18 brands competing for market share.
JLR aims to capture 10 percent of the premium SUV market with the Land Rover brand, JLR’s China boss Bob Grace, said at the Changshu factory’s opening ceremony on Monday. The $1.8 billion plant is JLR’s first full-scale assembly facility outside the UK and has been built with joint venture partner Chery Automobile.
The Evoque is JLR’s best-selling vehicle in China, and the country has accounted for one in five of the SUV’s sales since its launch in 2011.
JLR sold 62,479 vehicles in China in the first half, representing almost one in four of the company’s global sales. The company expects to sell 120,000 cars this year in China, which is already its biggest market
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralph Speth said on Monday that the carmaker plans to build three models in China by 2016, including a Jaguar.
Land Rover has struggled to keep pace with huge demand for its newest products. One recent fix was to include some Range Rover Sport production on the new Jaguar XE's assembly line in Solihull, central England.
Demand for the Evoque at its launch in 2011 was so great that Halewood moved to 24-hour working for the first time since it opened in 1962.
JLR has installed a new press line at Halewood at a cost of 45 million pounds (57 million euros) to speed up pressing of parts ahead of the launch of the Discovery Sport. Halewood makes 80 percent of pressed steel and aluminum parts for Jaguar Land Rover’s three UK factories.
JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors, sold a record 425,006 vehicles in 2013, up 19 per cent on the year before.
JLR currently builds cars from kits in India, and has also announced plans to build a plant in Brazil with production scheduled for 2016. Speth said in September that the company was in talks to build a plant in Saudi Arabia.
JLR has not denied or confirmed media reports that it is in talks to build a plant in the United States.