Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

West Midlands jobs 'safeguarded' by Jaguar XJ model

By Peter Plisner
Transport correspondent, BBC Midlands Today

Jaguar XJ
Up to five jobs in the supply chain rely on a JLR job, Accelerate claims

About 2,000 manufacturing jobs in the West Midlands have been safeguarded by production of the new Jaguar XJ, a car industry advisory group has said.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said the model was vital to helping it survive the recession and had also helped the region's car components industry.

It has employed 400 staff for the XJ production, which is being assembled at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham.

Car industry body Accelerate said every JLR job supported five others locally.

'Big coup'

Rachel Eade, from Accelerate, which provides support and advice to the automotive industry, said: "The XJ is important to the supply chain across the whole region and across the country.

"It's a new vehicle that's being launched as we come out of the very difficult period. It's anticipated volumes would put production back into what we would call high volumes, large numbers, which means security of jobs and a chance of innovation in manufacturing."

Matt Dhillon, a plant manager for Lear, a Coventry-based firm which makes seats for a variety of JLR models, said: "Winning the XJ work has secured 90 plus jobs here.

Roger Whitehouse managing director of Lander Automotive in Birmingham
More component orders are being placed locally, Mr Whitehouse said

"From where we were in 2008/2009 it's a big coup for us to win the replacement business. It secures the jobs in the area, so the area becomes more buoyant."

The seat manufacturer is classed as a 'first tier' supplier because it supplies parts directly to JLR factories, but across the West Midlands there are hundreds of firms that have contracts with JLR suppliers.

Birmingham-based Lander Automotive, which makes metal frames which support Lear's seats for the XJ, said the new model had been a source of extra orders.

It said the sale of JLR to the Indian firm Tata also meant more orders were being placed locally.

Its managing director, Roger Whitehouse, said: "The local executive management at JLR now place purchase orders wherever they think is the best place for their business. Previously under the other ownership the work would not have been placed locally."

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