After opening its first assembly plant in India last year and laying the foundations for a new manufacturing facility in China in partnership with Chery Automobile, the Jaguar Land Rover group is now eyeing a new factory in Saudi Arabia.
The British carmaker signed a letter of intent with Saudi Arabia’s government and the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP), and will begin a detailed feasibility study immediately to determine the viability of setting up an automotive facility in the country.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an attractive potential development option, complementing our existing advanced facilities in Britain and recent manufacturing plans to expand in other countries including India and China,” said Ralf Speth, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover.
The company said it is expanding its production facilities in these regions as sales to emerging markets contributed to a 32% increase in global retail sales to 324,184 vehicles in the eleven months to November 30, 2012. In the Middle East and North Africa, the group’s sales increased by more than 9% to 11,418 units this year.
While talks are in a preliminary stage, Jaguar Land Rover said it has already identified opportunities in aluminium component production as the world’s largest integrated aluminium complex, a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Mining Company and Alcoa of the US, is scheduled to become operative in 2014 at the Ras Al Khair facility.
Jaguar Land Rover, which is controlled by India’s Tata Motors, makes use of all-aluminium monocoque body structures on several models including the latest Jaguar XJ and the Range Rover.
The automaker said issues such as level of investment, potential capacity and job creation have not yet been discussed in detail with the Saudi Arabian government, adding that it expects to release further details in 2013.
“This is an exciting project that could enable Jaguar Land Rover to establish a Joint Venture partnership in a part of the world where luxury vehicle sales are expected to rise,” said Speth. “If we proceed, it will complement our existing expansion in the UK and elsewhere.”