The Queen has opened Jaguar Land Rover’s new £500 million engine plant in the West Midlands.
The site will produce the Ingenium range of engines, starting with the 2.0-litre diesel used in the new Jaguar XE.
At the opening of JLR’s new facility, the Queen was shown the XE and the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which is also expected to be powered by an Ingenium engine from 2015.
The engine plant, located near Wolverhampton, will employ 1,400 people when at its full capacity, as well as create a further 5,500 jobs in the supply chain.
Efficiency has been a big consideration in production of the facility, with a third of its power coming from solar panels on the roof.
The solar roof is the largest in the country, generating enough energy to power 1600 homes.
More than £150 million has been invested in the production area, which uses 150 state-of-the-art machines divided across three lines to fabricate most of the engine parts.
The 245 separate engine parts are then put together by a team of 150 JLR employees in the assembly area.
The UK carmaker holds the Royal Warrant and has provided the Queen with vehicles since her coronation in 1953.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO, Dr Ralf Speth: “Our Royal Warrants contribute to Jaguar Land Rover’s accelerating global growth, helping us to take exciting British design and advanced British engineering around the world.”
After a short speech by Dr Speth, in which he praised government, local councils, unions and JLR employees, the Queen stepped up to unveil a commemorative plaque. She and the Duke of Edinburgh then signed the visitors book for the new £500 million plant.
The crowd of onlookers included many of the plant’s employees, who seemed thrilled that the Queen spent 15 minutes following the engine process in detail.
The Ingenium engine range will, alongside Jaguar’s XE BMW 3 Series rival, give the British manufacturer a boost in a bid to become even more competitive against German rivals.
They’ll all be fitted with turbochargers to improve economy without sacrificing performance, according to Jaguar – with the engines capable of producing up to 317lb ft of torque and emitting as little as 99g/km CO2.
JLR’s sales have been steadily increasing for a number of years, with the firm selling 425,000 cars worldwide in 2013.