Dieselgate’s effects continue, years after the fact.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour that surround the arrival of new electric vehicle marques that (rather bumptiously) aim to ‘disrupt’ and ‘reset’ the automotive industry, as well as the future of the automobile as presented by established marques, there’s a real price to be paid for that progress.
Jaguar-Land Rover is rather unfortunate in that regard. While the British automotive powerhouse is investing heavily in future technology (as evidenced in the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV) and hiring skilled talent to shore up their development, the company has announced that it will not be renewing the contracts of some 1000 agency workers assigned to its plant in Solihull due to the slowing demand of diesel mills.
This is a particularly big blow to JLR, where some 90% of its sales have traditionally come from diesel-powered vehicles.
“Continuing headwinds [have forced us to] make adjustments to our production schedules, and the number of agency staff. We are, however, continuing to recruit large numbers of highly-skilled engineers, graduates and apprentices, because we are over-proportionally investing in new products and technologies. We also remain committed to our UK plants, in which we have invested more than [$7.34-billion] since 2010 to futureproof manufacturing technologies to deliver new models.” — Statement, Jaguar-Land Rover
Despite the job-cut, Jaguar-Land Rover remains the UK’s biggest automotive manufacturing employer, with some 40,000 staff on their payroll (with a quarter reporting to Solihull). With the cut of agency jobs, existing employees from JLR’s factory in Castle Bromwich will be relocate to Solihull to even-out the placement of staff.
The drop in diesel demand is largely attributed to the diesel emissions scandal perpetrated by Volkswagen, which has in turn triggered legislators and buyers to turn away from the once-favoured fuel of Europe. Diesels now represent just 33.5% of the new car market in the UK according to Autocar, representing a 10.5% decrease from last year.
The worst-affected models in the JLR lineup have been the XE compact and XF large saloons, though it’d be better to say that the entire JLR range has been hit by the turn away from diesel, as some 90% of the company’s sales are attributed to oilers.
Jaguar-Land Rover is responsive to the change of heart in the buying public, though. The Jaguar I-Pace is the firm’s first-ever purpose-built electric vehicle, due to hit our roads in October this year and put up a strong fight against the Tesla Model X that dominates the electric-crossover space. Further, the company has stated that it’ll have an electrified variant of ever model in its range by 2020, as well as its intention to realign its Jaguar XJ limousine as an all-electric proposition too.