JLR and Ford prepare for mass job cuts

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Britain's biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is set to announce "substantial" job cuts in the thousands, a source told Reuters, as the company faces double-digit drops in demand in China and a slump in sales for diesel cars in Europe.

The 4,500 cuts come in addition to 1,500 employees laid off previous year, and represent 10 percent of the company's global workforce.

Earlier this month it was reported United Kingdom new vehicle sales in 2018 fell at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago, hit by the collapse in demand for diesel, as the industry body warned of the existential threat to the sector posed by Brexit.

Ford also said on Thursday it will cut thousands of jobs in Europe, exit unprofitable markets and discontinue loss-making vehicle lines as part of a turnaround effort aimed at improving profit margins in the region.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: "Unite is positively engaging with Ford over its plans as we seek to safeguard jobs and look after the interests of all the company's employees in the UK".

Other UK-based automakers have also been vocal about their Brexit concerns, including Toyota (TM) and Nissan (7201.T), which produce a combined 640,000 cars in the country each year.

If, as expected, the United Kingdom bears the brunt, or the entirety, of JLR's global cost-cutting, JLR may well say it tried to warn us.

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The company also announced further investment in electrification, with electric drive units to be built at its factory in Wolverhampton and a new battery assembly centre at Hams Hall in Birmingham.

Ralf Speth, JLR's chief executive, placed part of the blame for the cull on the "continuing uncertainty related to Brexit".

It comes after the firm, which also has sites in Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Coventry, cut 1,500 jobs past year.

Brexit played an indirect role in the decision, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth said on a conference call, citing the United Kingdom automotive market's 6.8 per cent drop in 2018, the worst since the financial crisis.

Sales of cars in China dropped by 6%, to 22.7 million, during 2018, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) in the market's first decline for two decades.

"Rolls-Royce belongs to Britain", he said.

It is believed most of the job losses will affect JLR's managerial, research, sales and design staff.

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Ninety percent of its vehicles are diesel-powered, although it has been investing in new electric and hybrid vehicles.

It comes amid global trade tensions which have made Chinese consumers more cautious.

The automaker said it would start off by offering voluntary redundancies to United Kingdom workers.

It has hired 4,000 workers in China since 2014.

JLR also employs around 10,000 people in Solihull - its biggest factory - and around 3,200 at its Jaguar factory in Castle Bromwich, where a three-day week was introduced in the autumn.

The company's Ryton and Halewood facilities manufacture the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, Range Rover SV Coupé, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models. The UK is a world-leader in automotive manufacturing.

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