Chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover says UK factories, including Halewood, are not under threat despite issues over battery supply as the business reports surge in quarterly profits. Tony McDonough reports
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) chief executive Adrian Mardell has offered assurance that question marks over the supply of batteries for electric cars does not threaten the future of its UK factories.
In April JLR said its car assembly plant at Halewood in Merseyside is to go all-electric as part of a £15bn investment by the automotive giant.
JLR currently employs more than 3,500 people at the factory assembling the Range Rover, Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. By 2025 a new all-electric SUV model will be rolling off the production line at the site.
However, there are fears in the UK automotive sector that the failure by the Government to attract gigafactories that produce batteries for electric cars meant other countries now had a competitive advantage.
Indian conglomerate Tata, which owns JLR, is currently talking to both the UK and Spanish Governments about building new gigafactories. It is seeking hundreds of millions of pounds in state support.
Mr Mardell admitted that it “would be wonderful” if a factory were built in the UK but added “it was “not a threat to us” if they had to be imported from elsewhere. He explained: “I don’t believe it will impact where we build models.”
His comments came as JLR reported a big rise in pre-tax profits in the final quarter of its fiscal year to March 31, 2023. Pre-tax profits for the quarter were £368m, up from £9m for the same three months a year ago.
Revenues for the quarter were up 49% year-on-year to £7.1bn and revenues for the whole year were £22.8bn – 25% ahead of last year.
For the fiscal year JLR is reporting a pre-tax loss of £64m. However, this was £348m better than a year ago. The strong and profitable end to the year is reflective of the easing of the computer ship shortage. This has dogged the industry for more than two years.
Mr Marvel said: “JLR delivered a strong set of results for the fourth quarter. We increased production and delivered revenue, profit, free cash flow and wholesales growth as chip supply continued to improve.
“For the fiscal year ahead, while we are mindful of the headwinds that remain, our target is to increase EBIT margins to over 6% and deliver significantly positive free cash flow to reduce our net debt further, while increasing investment to £3bn.
“With the collective strength of our people, we will continue to deliver our Reimagine strategy.
“Demand for our exceptional modern luxury vehicles remains strong and with a pipeline of ultra-desirable electrified models on the horizon, I am excited and confident for our future.”