Before the Brexit referendum, in which Britons voted to leave the European Union, and the US-China trade war started to loom, the British-Indian carmaker Jaguar Land Rover decided to build a €1.4 billion plant in Nitra back in 2015.
These challenges have not changed JLR’s plans in Slovakia. The plant was built and ceremonially opened in late October. It produces the luxury SUV Land Rover Discovery, but whether or not it will be included in JLR’s ambitious electric plans has yet to be specified.
“The future of the company is certainly electric, but in the medium term, clean petrol and diesel engines will continue to be the only credible mass-market solution,” wrote operations director Alexander Wortberg in an e-mail interview with The Slovak Spectator.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): During the October opening ceremony, Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth described JLR’s plant in Nitra as the next generation manufacturing plant, representing the start of a new era in manufacturing for JLR. What are the differences and novelties of the Nitra plant compared to JLR’s other facilities?
Alexander Wortberg (AW): Nitra will play an important role in our manufacturing strategy in the future and will serve markets globally. It provides additional production capacity for JLR, supplementing our manufacturing plants in the UK, not replacing them. The plant will be a full manufacturing facility including the body-in-white, paint shop, trim & final as well as supporting functions, such as logistics.
We are working with Kuka (BIW), Durr (Paint) and Rofa (Trim & Final) to install cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. We are the first in Europe to use Kuka’s Pulse carrier system, which is 30 percent faster than conventional conveyance systems. The paint shop, for example, features a highly-automated process to ensure the highest quality and minimise environmental impact.
TSS: What were the biggest challenges when building a brand-new car production facility in Slovakia?
AW: With the Nitra plant, we have had the unique opportunity to create a manufacturing plant on a green field site rather than adapt an existing facility. This means that we have implemented and integrated different technologies, hardware, software and control systems. In October 2017, Jaguar Land Rover launched its first big recruitment campaign in Slovakia. We had a good response to offered roles with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Naturally, we are aware of the challenges in the labour market. However, we remain optimistic that we will be able to recruit the additional people required.
TSS: What impacts would a no-deal or hard Brexit have on the Nitra plant? How is the Nitra plant preparing for such scenarios?
21. Dec 2018 at 11:30 | Jana Liptáková