The British motor industry has put itself into lockdown as Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley became the last of the country’s big car manufacturers to send workers home because of the coronavirus crisis.
Jaguar Land Rover has said that it is to close its four UK manufacturing facilities for at least four weeks and that they will not re-open until April 20 at the earliest. The company, owned by the Indian group Tata Motors, is Britain’s largest car producer and automotive employer.
It will close its main Range Rover and Land Rover plant at Solihull, south of Birmingham, which employs 11,000 people; its Halewood factory on Merseyside, home of the Range Rover Evoque, which has a 4,000-strong workforce; its Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich, also in the West Midlands and with 1,900 workers; and its engine-making plant at Wolverhampton, which employs 1,400 people.
Jaguar Land Rover employs another 14,000 people at offices at Gaydon in Warwickshire and Whitley in Coventry. In a statement, the company said: “As a responsible business Jaguar Land Rover is operating in line with advice from the NHS and Public Health England to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, whilst implementing plans to safeguard its business continuity. The company will work towards an orderly return to production once conditions permit.”
Bentley, which employs 4,000 people in Crewe, said it had also ordered a four-week shutdown. Adrian Hallmark, chief executive, said: “This will inevitably have an impact on deliveries to customers. However, we are working hard to minimise this disruption.”
Bentley has in effect fallen into line with its parent company, Volkswagen, which has shut down all its plants across continental Europe.
The Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley decisions follow similar announcements elsewhere during the past week.
BMW, which employs 7,000 people in the UK, has closed its Mini and Rolls-Royce factories, while Nissan said it was closing its Sunderland factory, which employs more than 6,000 people and is the biggest car plant in the country.