A while back we reported that Land Rover was eliminating up to 250 jobs at its legendary Solihull plant in England as it decreased Freelander production by as many as 10,000 units. This, despite the fact that the Freelander is the best-selling 4x4 in all of Europe. Upon closer inspection, however, we learned that the then BMW-owned plant had overproduced engines for the vehicle, and had to hit the brakes on production to catch up.
Now, Solihull is losing an estimated 1,000 jobs, but this time it is not a bad thing. About as many jobs are being shifted over to Halewood in Merseyside to create the next- generation model Freelander, right alongside Jaguar's highest volume premium product ' the award-winning X-Type. And, despite the loss (shift) of jobs, parent company Ford is pumping $200 million pounds into the Solihull site to support the next-generation Discovery and other future Land Rover products.
So what does this all really mean? Solihull is the plant that has been producing Land Rover vehicles for over 50 years. The Halewood plant is considered one of the most flexible and efficient plants at Ford. Obviously there's a big push on at Ford to reduce production costs and there has been big talk about Ford 'returning to its roots' - no more forays into non-automotive businesses.
What's happening here is that Ford is restructuring its production in Britain; putting their money where their greatest strengths lie. The Solihull plant received a significant monetary investment and will focus on production of the company's larger premium and specialist 4x4 vehicles, because that is clearly what they are among the best in the world at producing. The Halewood plant, after its conversion to produce Jaguar vehicles, has distinguished itself as one of the highest performing plants in the Ford Motor Company. Naturally they want to capitalize on its flexibility and efficient new working practices to move forward with new models for the future. Both plants work more efficiently and do what they do best.
And that can only mean more and better new models from Ford's Premier Automotive Group in the future.
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