Media Land Rover

JLR restarts some Europe output to meet China demand

LONDON -- Jaguar Land Rover will begin building light vehicles again in Europe next month as customers return to showrooms in China, a key market for the automaker.

JLR's plants in Solihull, England, and Nitra, Slovakia, will resume production on May 10, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Contract manufacturer Magna Steyr will also restart production in Graz, Austria, on the same date, as will JLR's engine factory in Wolverhampton, England.

The resumption of output is linked to the improving Chinese light-vehicle market.

"In China, we are beginning to see recovery in vehicle sales and customers are returning to our showrooms," JLR said.

JLR's Solihull plant builds the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport large SUVs, traditionally JLR's biggest money earners.

Magna Steyr builds the Jaguar I-Pace full-electric crossover and the E-Pace SUV.

The reopening of the Nitra factory means production of the new Defender off-roader, which is built there, will resume. Defender deliveries are due to start this summer.

JLR's plants in Halewood and Castle Bromwich, both in England, will remain shut for the time being. The plants build models that are also produced in JLR's Chinese plant in Changshu. The Changshu factory reopened in February.

JLR said it would reopen its remaining plants when buying conditions improve. "As countries are relaxing distancing guidelines and retailers are reopening around the world, the restart of production at our other plants will be confirmed in due course," the company said.

JLR said it is putting in place new "robust" health and safety measures to protect workers, adding it would "adopt strict social distancing measures across our business."

JLR was one of the last automaker to halt production in Europe when it closed its plants from the week beginning March 23.