Jaguar Land Rover is looking into plans to set up a new plant in Saudi Arabia, according to reports from the subcontinent.
The Gulf kingdom’s industry minister Tawfig Fawzan Alrabiah claimed the Midland car giant was exploring plans for a plant manufacturing both Jaguar and Land Rover cars.
It comes as JLR continues to extand its reach, with a factory in China currently being built and proposals for a plant in Brazil.
There has been no official announcement but The Times Of India – which is home to JLR owner Tata Motors – said the parent company was looking at options in Saudi Arabia.
Industry expert David Bailey said investment in Saudi Arabia was doubly rise for JLR – as not only is the Middle East a key export market, it is also crucial for supplies of raw materials.
Prof Bailey, who is professor of industrial strategy at the Aston Business School, said: “This would certainly be feasible, not only because of exports but also access to aluminium.
“They have gone for an all-aluminium strategy very clearly and Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest aluminium smelters in the world.
“It gives them access to a lot of aluminium, and a lot of expertise about it.
“There is also big growing demand in and around Saudi Arabia.”
The Post reported in 2012 that JLR had signed a letter of intent with authorities in Saudi Arabia which would see the two parties work on a detailed feasibility study to determine the viability of setting up an automotive facility.
The company said talks were at a preliminary stage at the time, although opportunities had already been identified in aluminium component production.
Mr Alrabiah was this week quoted as saying said other Tata companies including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Tata Steel were also looking at the kingdom for potential expansion.
Prof Bailey said that while reports of investment overseas often leads to fears over jobs in the West Mildands, JLR’s growth was sufficent that this does not pose a threat here.
He said: “You could understand why with expansion in China, Brazil and possibly Saudi Arabia, unions are concerned about the UK.
“They are right to ask questions, but this is about the global expansion of the company, which will be in the UK and overseas.
“The company is going to double in size in the new few years, but all of the research and development is still done in the UK.”