Jaguar Land Rover is to conduct a detailed feasibility study for possible production in Saudi Arabia, signing a letter of intent today with the country’s National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP), an industry group tasked with establishing major business opportunities.
Discussions between Jaguar Land Rover and the Saudi government are at a preliminary stage, although opportunities have already been identified in aluminum component production.
One of these is a deal where Jaguar Land Rover will source aluminum for cars like the Jaguar XJ and Range Rover from a new development that will see the world’s largest aluminum smelter built in Saudi Arabia.
The new smelter, which goes online in 2014 and could include a stamping facility, is the result of a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian government and American firm Alcoa.
Should the outcome of the feasibility study prove positive, Jaguar Land Rover plans to make further announcements next year concerning the possibility of production of its vehicles in Saudi Arabia. According to a report in Autocar, the new model will be a Land Rover vehicle that could share its aluminum platform with the one underpinning the new 2013 Range Rover.
If the plan goes ahead, the factory will start up in 2017 in either Jubail or Yanbu and produce around 50,000 vehicles annually.
“This is an exciting project that could enable Jaguar Land Rover to establish a joint venture partnership in a part of the world where luxury vehicle sales are expected to rise,” said Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth in a statement. “If we proceed, it will complement our existing expansion in the UK and elsewhere.”
Today’s announcement comes just a few weeks after Jaguar Land Rover announced that it will form a joint venture with Chinese automaker Chery that will see Jaguar and Land Rover models produced in China. The British automaker also has plans to start production in India.
Such expansion follows a sharp rise in Jaguar Land Rover sales to emerging markets, contributing to a 32 percent increase in its global retail sales to 324,184 vehicles in the eleven months to November 30, 2012.