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First Jaguar Land Rover car drives off the production line during lockdown

The first Range Rover build under social distancing measures drove off the assembly line today as Britain’s biggest car maker signaled the restart of production in the midlands this week.

Jaguar Land Rover restarted manufacturing in Britain on Monday, with the Solihull car plant and engine factory in Wolverhampton the two first facilities to get the green light with coronavirus measures in place. 

The car maker welcomed the first new model produced since the company went into lockdown on 24 March, made with workers having to adhere to new hygiene and distancing measures put in place.

Back to work: JLR reopened the Solihull production facility on Monday and today has completed its first car in lockdown

A Range Rover – priced from £84,000 – was the first new car to be completed during lockdown as the British firm looked to kickstart efforts to recover from the collapse in new vehicle demand caused by the pandemic.

Like every brand, the UK’s biggest car makers suffered plunging sales in April as dealers closed and potential buyers had limited opportunity to place orders.

Just 396 Jaguars were registered in Britain last month, down 85 per cent on figures for April 2019. Sales were hit even harder for sister brand Land Rover with just 79 models registered in April – a drop of 99 per cent.

Eager to restart production lines in preparation for showrooms to reopen from 1 June, JLR bosses have implemented a range of new rules at its plants that adhere to government guidelines and social-distancing guidance that was published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders last week. 

It also confirmed that production at the Halewood plant near Liverpool will recommence on 8 June, starting with one shift and that ‘small pockets’ of business-critical activity is taking place to prepare the Castle Bromwich factory for new model assembly. 

New measures already introduced at the open Solihull plant include temperature checks with thermal cameras, a two-metre distance between people wherever possible, PPE where that is not the case, the introduction of one-way systems and enhanced cleaning at the plants. 

In addition, Jaguar Land Rover is offering every employee a reusable face visor made by the company.

The first JLR product completed in lockdown was this Range Rover, with prices for the luxury SUV starting from £84,000

The first JLR product completed in lockdown was this Range Rover, with prices for the luxury SUV starting from £84,000

Bosses confirmed that production at the Halewood plant near Liverpool will recommence on 8 June

Bosses confirmed that production at the Halewood plant near Liverpool will recommence on 8 June

Grant McPherson, executive director of manufacturing at JLR, said: ‘Seeing the first Range Rover come off our line today is a defining moment for Jaguar Land Rover, for all of us who work for the company and the many businesses in our supply chain.

‘ It marks the end of our temporary shutdown and signals the beginning of a return to normality. But, of course, this is a new normal.

‘People will be experiencing many emotions, ranging from worry about hygiene to relief at being able to return to work and excitement at seeing colleagues again. 

‘The health and wellbeing of our employees has been our primary concern in the build-up to this point. 

‘Throughout the coming months, I know that as a team we will do all we can to ‘Stay safe. Be kind. Stay well’.’

In addition to new measures onsite, colleagues will be asked to take additional actions before returning to work. 

These include completing an online clinical questionnaire, signing up to a health and wellbeing charter, and monitoring their temperature at home before each shift.

Company provided hand sanitiser is just one of the new additions to the plant to prevent the spread of Covid-19

Company provided hand sanitiser is just one of the new additions to the plant to prevent the spread of Covid-19

Jaguar Land Rover is offering every employee a reusable face visor made by the company

Jaguar Land Rover is offering every employee a reusable face visor made by the company

Demand drop: Just 396 Jaguars were registered in the UK last month, down 85% on April 2019. Sales were hit even harder for sister brand Land Rover with just 79 models registered in April - a drop of 99%

Demand drop: Just 396 Jaguars were registered in the UK last month, down 85% on April 2019. Sales were hit even harder for sister brand Land Rover with just 79 models registered in April – a drop of 99%

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief medical officer, said: ‘We have been going through unprecedented times and my thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by Covid-19, as well as with the healthcare professionals, whose role fighting coronavirus is appreciated around the world.

‘Clearly the health, safety and wellbeing of the Jaguar Land Rover family is our primary concern. We have developed the most effective protocol and guidelines so that our people feel reassured about coming back to the workplace.

‘Our measures are based on extensive medical and operational review, including lessons learned from our teams in China and Slovakia. 

‘We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, following the guidance of all relevant authorities in the markets in which we operate, and will adapt quickly as that guidance changes.’

Des Quinn, Unite the Union national officer, added: ‘We are satisfied that Jaguar Land Rover has not only implemented government guidance but has gone above and beyond to satisfy and ensure as many safe systems as possible are in place from the minute employees arrive to the minute they leave work.’  

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