Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will shut down production for two weeks.
The country’s biggest car-maker said the “fluctuating” global market has triggered the decision to temporarily close down its Solihull plant from October 22.
On Monday, JLR also reported total retail sales of 57,114 vehicles in September, down 12.3% year-on-year despite strong sales for new models.
It comes off the back of plans to shift all production of its Discovery model to Slovakia from the West Midlands site, and a fall in demand for diesel cars amid concern over emissions.
The Unite union described the announcement as “deeply troubling”, although JLR employees’ jobs are not thought to be under threat.
New car sales fell 5.7% in the UK last year amid falling business and consumer confidence.
The industry has also warned of the impact of Brexit and a potential knock-on effect to sales following environmental concerns about diesel motors.
JLR has said they will be aligning their supply to reflect the fluctuating demand.
Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that customers orders will not be impacted by the shutdown.
Any cars which have already been ordered and are on the system will not be affected, a spokesperson for JLR has said.
Jaguar Land Rover employees who are affected by the shutdown will still be paid.
The company has confirmed that all employees will still receive pay for the duration of the closure – though it was not clear whether this was full pay or not.4
A full statement from JLR was issued on Monday after news of the two-week shutdown emerged.
A JLR spokesman said: “As part of the company’s continued strategy for profitable growth, Jaguar Land Rover is focused on achieving operational efficiencies and will align supply to reflect fluctuating demand globally as required.
“The decision to introduce a two-week shutdown period later this month at Solihull is one example of actions we are taking to achieve this.
“Customer orders in the system will not be impacted and employees affected will be paid for the duration of the shutdown.”
The slump in China, as well as a decline of nearly 7% in North America, dragged overall sales for the month down 12.3% to 57,114 vehicles. It comes weeks after the firm announced it was moving to a three-day week at Castle Bromwich, its other large production facility, citing the diesel slump and Brexit.
The freeze at Solihull, where the production line makes Range Rovers and the Land Rover Discovery SUV, is not understood to be Brexit-related. However, the Labour MP Jack Dromey, whose constituency includes the Castle Bromwich plant, said JLR’s difficulties underscored the need for the automotive industry to be prioritised in the UK’s agreement with the EU.
“This is yet another worrying sign for the future of Britain’s automotive industry,” he said. “Brexit chaos and the government’s mishandling of the transition from diesel pose a growing threat to the jewel in the crown of British manufacturing and the government is running out of time to save it.
“[The JLR chief executive] Ralf Speth warned of the looming consequences of a no-deal Brexit and we were told by wide-eyed Brexiteers that he was ‘making it up’. It is imperative that the government sorts itself out and gets a deal from the EU that protects jobs and trade because tens of thousands of jobs depend on it.”