Jaguar Land Rover opened its state-of-the-art €1.4 billion (£1bn) manufacturing facility on Thursday (25) in Nitra, Slovakia, the first time a UK automotive company has opened a plant in this country.
Jaguar Land Rover currently employs around 1,500 people in Nitra, 98 per cent are Slovak nationals and 30 per cent are women. It will launch its second phase of local recruitment in November looking for an additional 850 people to join the team in Nitra, the company said.
All manufacturing employees have taken part in a bespoke 12-week training programme in the company’s first overseas Training Academy, representing an investment of €7.5 million.
The new 300,000m² facility stands at the forefront of aluminium manufacturing and engineering expertise in Slovakia, with an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year. Supporting the company’s on-going commitment to deliver high technology lightweight vehicles to its customers, the first Land Rover Discovery rolled off the production line in September.
The plant incorporates cutting-edge technologies and it is the first in Europe to use Kuka’s Pulse carrier system which is 30 per cent faster transfer times than conventional conveyance systems. It will also feature a highly automated paint shop process to ensure the highest quality and minimise the environmental impact.
Looking to the future, the factory has been designed with the flexibility to enable smart, connected manufacturing technologies, such as shop floor visualisation by using real-time data to solve issues which will support improved process efficiency, delivery and quality, the company added.
Slovakia has an established premium automotive sector, which represents 44 per cent of the country’s overall industry.
With an established network of suppliers in close proximity, Jaguar Land Rover has sourced and localised a number of components, such as seats and wheels, to support the production of the Land Rover Discovery in Nitra delivering several thousand additional jobs in the automotive supply chain in Slovakia.
With the heart and soul of its business in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in Nitra marks the latest step in the company’s global expansion strategy following the opening of its Chinese joint venture in 2014 and Brazilian plant in 2016, supported by contract manufacturing in India from 2011 and Austria from 2017.
“…It is the latest milestone in our long-term globalisation programme and the culmination of four years planning. As with our existing manufacturing facilities located in the UK, China, Brazil, India and Austria, this high-tech plant in Slovakia will complement and support our corporate, R&D and engineering functions headquartered in the UK,” said Ralf Speth CEO, Jaguar Land Rover.
Europe has the largest number of Jaguar Land Rover retailers with almost 800 outlets across 42 countries. Since the beginning of 2018, Jaguar Land Rover has sold more than 94,000 vehicles in Europe.