Jaguar Land Rover is “alive and kicking”, the embattled luxury carmaker’s chief executive said at the opening of the company’s new Technical Academy.
David Smith said the global automotive industry faced a “once in a century challenge” as economic recession, combined with a continuing credit drought, sent sales of new cars crashing around the world.
But he stressed: “At Jaguar Land Rover we have a great future and we will get through these short-term difficulties.”
Mr Smith made his comments at the opening of the company’s environmentally-advanced Technical Academy at Warwick yesterday.
The centre, which replaces facilities at Gaydon and Castle Bromwich, handles all product and systems training for technical staff, including service technicians, employed by Jaguar Land Rover and its dealer networks throughout the world.
It also trains the company’s engineering apprentices, more than 1,000 of whom have passed through the centre in the past ten years.
JLR took over an existing building on the Heathcote Industrial Estate which it refurbished to take advantage of the latest energy-saving technology.
Conventional air-conditioning has been replaced by an innovative plasterboard that absorbs heat in hot weather and emits heat when temperatures drop. The company says it will save about 200 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year in comparison with a conventional building.
The 43,000 sq ft centre was opened by television wildlife presenter Kate Humble, owner of a Land Rover Freelander which she uses to transport pigs at her home in Wales. She said: “Jaguar Land Rover is committed to improving its carbon footprint whilst providing its apprentices and dealers with a first class facility. The motor industry is going through a difficult time and those that tough it out will be those who meet the demands of their customers.”
Mr Smith told the audience: “I think this Academy really underlines our vision for the future - and I am talking about the future because this business is alive and kicking. We have called on the Government to put life back into this industry and they are clearly taking action. But more can be done and that support will kickstart our economy again.
“A company like JLR has enormous potential for the future because it epitomises British design, engineering and ingenuity. The whole industry faces once in a hundred year challenges... but JLR can get through these short-term difficulties and this Academy is absolutely at the centre of what we want to be going forward.”
JLR customer services director Mike Wright said: “Although times are difficult in terms of sales, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world driving Jaguars and Land Rovers and we are committed to giving them the best possible support.”
From next week the centre will train technicians on latest powertrain developments in new Jaguars and Land Rovers that will be in showrooms around the world in the coming months.
One apprentice at the centre, Oliver Smith, aged 18, who works at a Stratstone Land Rover dealership in Solihull, said he was confident about the future of JLR.