The start of engine production at Wolverhampton marks the first time Jaguar Land Rover has built engines in-house for a generation. Jaguar’s own AJ16 and V12 engines ceased production in 1997, to be replaced by V8s and V6s designed by Ford. Land Rover’s engine line at the Solihull factory was shut in 2012. Both parts of JLR have continued to buy-in engines from Ford while diesel engines have been developed and built jointly with Ford and Peugeot.
The new Engine Manufacturing Centre will build an all-new, all-JLR engine family named Ingenium. At present Wolverhampton only builds a 2.0-litre diesel engine for the upcoming Jaguar XE small saloon, which will be built at Solihull, but petrol versions and V6 and inline-triple versions in both spark- and compression ignition forms will follow. The facility cost £500 million to build and will employ 1400 people directly and around 5500 in the supply chain when at full capacity.
The cloud that cast a small shadow on JLR’s day of good news came in the form of the threat of industrial action from the workforce at the Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood assembly plants. Trade union Unite’s shop stewards in the company collectively rejected a three-year pay deal that represented a package of pay rises, bonuses and inflation-linked increases representing a total increase of around 14 per cent – a figure Unite described as ‘disappointing’ amid concerns over how the bonuses would affect pensions and the state of employee pay at a time when JLR is making record profits.
Unions are now consulting with the 18,000 workers at JLR’s three main plants in anticipation of a ballot on taking strike action. If such action went ahead it would be the first full-blown pay dispute at JLR (or, more accurately, its constituent companies) in over a decade.