RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — British auto firm Jaguar Land Rover said Tuesday it has started building its first fully owned factory outside the United Kingdom in the Brazilian town of Itatiaia, near Rio de Janeiro.
A state-of-the-art 750 million reais ($290 million) complex will also house an education and business center, the British firm said in a statement.
The plant will employ 400 workers for production capacity of 24,000 vehicles as Jaguar becomes the first British auto company to invest in a manufacturing plant in Brazil.
"Our new facility in Brazil is an important strand of Jaguar Land Rover's long-term sustainability," said CEO Ralf Speth after the foundation stone was laid. "The start of construction is a significant milestone and represents another step forward in our plans to create a truly global manufacturing footprint."
He explained that the company, owned by Indian giant Tata Motors (IW 1000/118), aimed to produce "vehicles that our customers in Brazil can love for life."
The first vehicles are slated to roll off the production line in 2016.
Speth said the educational center "demonstrates our commitment to developing the skills needed by tomorrow's workforce to develop a sustainable premium automative manufacturing industry in Brazil."
Some Parts Sourced Locally
Jaguar, which says it hopes to create a close relationship with the local community, intends to source many parts from Brazil but will also resort in part to its global supply chain.
Rio state governor Luiz Fernando Pezao said the breaking of ground at the future plant was "an historic achievement for the state of Rio" and said the state was honored to receive the education center, the first of its kind in Latin America. He added that the Rio region offered "perfect conditions" for would-be investors.
In addition to building the center, Jaguar Land Rover recently launched the opening phase of a program just outside Itatiaia designed to "inspire the workers of tomorrow," offering auto sector work experience for 17-to 26-year-olds.
One vehicle Jaguar plans to produce at the new plant is the Discovery Sport, well received at the recent Sao Paulo Motor Show.
The company, whose Range Rover models are already popular in Brazil, identified as a major market by the premium brand constructor, says it is already recruiting personnel in conjunction with municipal authorities.
The company has had a sales presence in Brazil for more than 20 years and by the middle of next year hopes to have 42 dealerships in the giant South American country.
The company's move into Brazil follows the recent establishment of a joint venture in China as it extends its global reach.
Jaguar also has an assembly plant in Pune, India, while in October it unveiled its first overseas manufacturing unit in partnership with China's Chery Automobile Company Ltd. at Changshu north of Shanghai.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014