The Range Rover Sport and Discovery 4 production lines at Land Rover’s Solihull plant will return to five-days-a-week working at the start of next month as the company sees signs of its markets improving.
Assembly of the 2010 model year upgrades of the two cars will revert to normal levels after months of production cuts.
Land Rover, whose Lode Lane factory reopens on Monday after a two-week summer shutdown, said yesterday that sales of the new version of its flagship Range Rover model rose by 50 per cent in July.
Its sales overall fell by ten per cent to 1,582 units in July, one of the lowest year-on-year declines for a year.
The manufacturer, sister company to Jaguar, has been especially hard hit by the recession and credit crunch and figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) yesterday showed a 37 per cent fall to 14,974 units over the year so far.
A Land Rover spokesman said July, 2008, was the month the downturn began taking its toll on sales whereas the same month in 2007 had been an “absolute record” for the company.
“We are now beginning to see signs of stability and we expect to see further progress with the significantly revised Sport and Discovery 4 which go on sale in September.
“It goes to show that if you continue to invest in products that are desirable you can make progress.”
The traditional summer shutdown at Lode Lane and at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich car plant in Birmingham has been cut from three to two weeks as both sites prepare for new models – in Jaguar’s case the new XJ top of the range sports saloon car.
That’s in stark contrast to the Indian-owned company’s third plant, Halewood on Merseyside, one of whose models, the Jaguar X Type, is going out of production.
Production of the remaining vehicle, the Land Rover Freelander, will be suspended for three weeks in September and 300 employees face redundancy.
Jaguar’s July sales slumped heavily, by 31 per cent to 1,218 units, largely because of the run-out of the old XJ model. The brand was 22 per cent down at 10,336 units over the first seven months.
Overall, the beleaguered UK motor industry received a much-needed boost in July as sales rose for the first time since April last year.
A total of 157,149 new cars were registered in July – an increase of 2.4 per cent on the July, 2008, figure, the SMMT said. The body said the rise was due to the Government-backed scrappage scheme which gives owners of cars ten-years-old or more a £2,000 discount on new models.
“The impact of the scrappage scheme is clear and we are encouraged by the positive impact it has had,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.
“The industry still faces a long road to recovery and we urge government to take action to sustain economic recovery through easing access to finance and credit and delivering the loan guarantees set out by the Automotive Assistance Programme.”
Baback Yazdani, dean of Nottingham Business School and a former Jaguar Land Rover executive, said July’s rise in registrations was welcome, but compared with the new car market in mainland Europe, the US and Japan the increase was “a modest one”.