Britain's biggest vehicle manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, is to transfer all production of its Land Rover Discovery model from the West Midlands to a plant in Slovakia, potentially putting hundreds of agency jobs at risk.
The announcement comes weeks after profits at Jaguar Land Rover were nearly cut in half in the fourth quarter.
It is also still possible that the Jaguar J-Pace, the Discovery's sister vehicle, will be built in Solihull, possibly alongside a new family of electrified and electric Jaguar Land Rover cars coming next year, including the relaunched XJ and Road Rover EVs.
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The Solihull factory, where the Discovery is manufactured, will be used to build a new generation of Range Rover models, the firm said. Discovery production will be moved from the beginning of 2019, meaning job cuts at the Solihull plant are possible before it ramps up staffing again, the people said. It already employs 1,400 people there as it gears up to open.
Last month, the company - which is owned by India's Tata Motors, said fourth-quarter pre-tax profit halved to £364million on revenues of £7.6billion. While some agency-employed plant workers may lose their jobs, the decision to build electric cars at Solihull marks a major commitment to United Kingdom manufacturing amid uncertainty over Brexit.
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The group saw pre-tax profit slump to £364million in the three months to March 31, down from £676million in the same period a year ago.
It also said it would spend millions to retool its Solihull plant to produce electric vehicles and produce the next Range Rover Evoque at its Halewood site, which also makes Discovery models.
The company has also blamed Brexit for hitting demand in Europe's second-largest autos market, where demand fell 6 percent a year ago, a source told Reuters in April.
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As well as new manufacturing plants in China and South America, JLR has struck a deal with carmaker Magna Steyr to build the both its Jaguar E-Pace and the all-electric I-Pace models in Austria.