Jaguar I-Pace SUV
Jaguar I-Pace SUV

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said it wants to build electric cars in the UK in what would be a further boost to the British automotive sector after the Brexit vote.

The British carmaker previewed its first full-electric car, the I-Pace SUV, at the Los Angeles auto show this month. The automaker, which built just under a third of Britain's 1.6 million cars last year, has said the I-Pace will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria.

But CEO Ralf Speth suggested that the Tata Motors-owned automaker, which operates three car plants in central and northern England, could bring further production to the UK.

"We want to build our EVs in the West Midlands, in the home of our design and engineering," Speth told an industry meeting on Thursday evening, according to a spokeswoman.

Speth told Reuters in September it made sense to build electric batteries and cars in its home market if the conditions, including pilot testing and support from science, were right.

According to the Financial Times, he told a meeting of political and automotive leaders from the Midlands that JLR's planned Midlands expansion would require big improvements in local infrastructure, including an extra 12 to 15 gigawatts of electricity per year.

The company would also need extra land for development and "the right legislative framework", Speth added.

JLR would require a further £600m of private investment, according to a planning document seen by the Financial Times.

Greg Clark, the business secretary, was at the meeting and told the Financial Times that the British government "couldn't be more aligned" with the car group in its ambitions for electric vehicles.

The development of electric cars would be "one of the big features of the world, and of Britain's industrial policy, during the weeks and months and years ahead".

JLR's plans are another shot in the arm to the UK economy's prospects after the Brexit vote, which many predicted would deter companies from committing to investing in the UK. A month ago the Japanese carmaker Nissan announced it would build two new models at its plant in Sunderland, boosting hopes that other carmakers would continue to invest in Britain, the Financial Times reported.

This week the government pledged an additional £2bn a year by 2020 to fund research and development, while Philip Hammond, the chancellor, announced an £80m boost for electric charging points in his Autumn Statement.

The company confirmed it intended to create 10,000 jobs as part of the planned expansion in the Midlands. Martin Yardley, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said the first stage of the expansion could potentially create as many as 100,000 more jobs in the supply chain.

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