Jaguar axes X-Type model and cuts jobs

JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) is axing a further 300 jobs &ndash; this time at a plant in Merseyside &ndash; and is stopping production of its X-Type model, the carmaker said yesterday, as luxury cars are hit in the downturn.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our industry has been especially badly hit by the recession and the premium sector more than others. JLR&rsquo;s retail sales fell by 28 per cent in the past 10 months,&rdquo; chief executive David Smith said.<br /><br />The job cuts, at Halewood plant, bring the total number of job losses at the company to over 2,000 since the start of the year.<br /><br />It said it hoped to make the cuts with voluntary redundancies.<br /><br />The Halewood site employs around 2,000 people, and has made the X-Type &ldquo;Baby Jaguar&rdquo; since 2001. It also makes the Land Rover Freelander.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re stopping production of the X-Type to refocus on the changing needs of the consumer,&rdquo; Jaguar said, adding it was necessary to protect other investment plans.<br /><br />&ldquo;We also expect the need to take a further three weeks or more of shutdown of the Halewood plant over the balance of this year, starting in September, due to on-going weakness in the market,&rdquo; it warned.<br /><br />But JLR, which is owned by the Indian company Tata Motors, said it would not close the plant altogether.<br /><br />Last week,the group unveiled its new flagship car, the Jaguar XJ, at a glitzy London party attended by Elle McPherson and David Hasselhoff.<br /><br />JLR has been approved for a &euro;340m (&pound;292m) loan by the European Investment Bank (EIB), for research into new technology, but the government needs to underwrite the loan, and wants fiercer terms, giving it strong control over the company.<br /><br />&ldquo;We do need to be confident that the taxpayers&rsquo; money that goes into Jaguar will come back out again &ndash; that the taxpayer won&rsquo;t be left high and dry,&rdquo; business secretary Lord Mandelson said.<br /><br />Car plants across Europe have been closing down as the industry suffers.