Land Rover has finally put to rest rumors that its next Defender might be built at a new plant in Slovakia by confirming that all Discovery production will be moved to the site, which was first announced in 2015 and due to be operational in late 2018.
“The decision to move the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia and the potential losses of some agency employed staff in the U.K. is a tough one but forms part of our long-term manufacturing strategy as we transform our business globally,” the automaker said in an email sent to Bloomberg on Monday.
Land Rover, like most major automakers, is expanding its production footprint in an effort to hedge against currency fluctuations as well as take advantage of lower costs and improved logistics in various regions.
In 2014 the automaker started production outside the U.K. for the first time when versions of the Rover Range Rover Evoque started rolling out of a plant in China. Most Range Rover Evoques and the related Discovery Sport are built at Land Rover's Halewood plant in the U.K., however.
Sources at Land Rover also revealed to Bloomberg that the move is also to free up capacity at the Solihull plant where the Discovery is currently built, along with the the Range Rover, Ranger Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F-Pace, to make way for new electric cars.
It isn't clear what electric Land Rovers are in the pipeline, though there are rumors the next Defender might offer an electric option. There's also the possibility that the next Range Rover and Range Rover Sport might offer an electric option, too. Sister company Jaguar might also utilize the Solihull plant for new electric cars. Production of Jaguar's first electric car, the I-Pace, is currently outsourced to a Magna Steyr plant in Austria.