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Bright news in the Black Country

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it is to create 700 new jobs at its 'i54' plant near Wolverhampton. The factory is still unfinished but JLR has already decided to double capacity at the engine plant. The move will double jobs at the plant from 700 to more than 1,400. JLR's initial plans were for a £355 million investment at the site and 700 jobs. The investment is now also set to rise to more than £500 million.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it is to create 700 new jobs at its 'i54' plant near Wolverhampton. The factory is still unfinished but JLR has already decided to double capacity at the engine plant. The move will double jobs at the plant from 700 to more than 1,400. JLR's initial plans were for a £355 million investment at the site and 700 jobs. The investment is now also set to rise to more than £500 million. JLR executive director, Mike Wright, explained the company's thinking behind the expansion: "Since the original announcement was made in 2011 we've been able to look at our plans, look at potential for our products around the world and as a result of that analysis we've decided to put even more capacity into the engine manufacturing centre, invest more money and create more jobs."

 
Wright's confidence seems well placed as the car maker reported an increase in worldwide sales of 30% for 2012. The company now sells more than 350,000 vehicles in 177 countries and sales in the key Chinese market are particularly strong, rising by 80% last year alone. The government's Business Secretary, Vince Cable, welcomed the news: "This is good news for UK manufacturing. With 2.5 million engines produced in this country last year, the UK has established a reputation as a leading global engine manufacturer." Unite union boss, Len McCluskey added his congratulations to JLR, calling the announcement "a massive vote of confidence in the skills of the UK workforce." He added, "JLR's investment will generate quality jobs in the West Midlands and is a much-needed shot in the arm for Britain's struggling manufacturing sector."
 
The news will come as a shot in the arm for Wolverhampton too, where some 12,500 people are currently claiming job seekers allowance. It is a remarkable turnaround for the company. Just three years ago it was thought that lack of demand combined with over-capacity at JLR's three factories would mean that either the plant at Solihull or Castle Bromwich may have to be closed. Now the plants are operating 24 hours a day in a bid to keep up with demand and the i54 engine factory has had its capacity doubled before it has even been opened. Staffordshire County Council is spending £18.5 million on a dedicated junction on the M54 to support the plant and in a joint statement with Wolverhampton City Council and South Staffordshire Council they said: "We are delighted that Jaguar Land Rover is strengthening its commitment to the i54 South Staffordshire site before construction of the main facility has even been completed.

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