COVENTRY-based Jaguar Land Rover is exploring whether to build a factory in Slovakia.
The news has prompted a mixed reaction in the Coventry and Warwickshire region.
JLR’s success continues to be welcomed, while there is a degree of concern over the future of UK production.
The luxury car giant says the move would help grow its international markets.
JLR has signed a ‘letter of intent’ with the government in Slovakia to explore the feasibility of constructing a £1billion plant near the city of Nitra.
It would potentially produce up to 300,000 vehicles a year, from 2018.
JLR chief executive Ralf Speth said: “The expansion of our business globally is essential to support its long-term, resilient growth.
“As well as creating additional capacity, it allows us to invest in the development of more new vehicles and technologies, which supports jobs in the UK.
“With its established premium automotive industry, Slovakia is an attractive potential development opportunity for us. The new factory will complement our existing facilities in the UK, China, India and the one under construction in Brazil.”
JLR’s profits for the first quarter of this year fell by almost a third, due to reduced demand in China.
A decision on whether to go ahead with the new plant is expected later this year.
Professor David Bailey, an auto industry expert in the Coventry and Warwickshire region, said JLR wanted a new plant to grow output partly because UK demand for vehicles was nearly reaching its maximum.
But he added: “This isn’t so much about running out of capacity in the UK as JLR raising its output ambitions even further and the business being squeezed in the UK by a combination of skill shortages in the industry, exchange rate shifts, likely EU emissions fines and the UK’s planned carbon price floor.”
Professor Bailey said it was a signal of intent for JLR to treble its vehicle production to 1.5million in a decade.
Des Quinn, a rep at union Unite, said the union enjoyed good relations with JLR in Coventry and the West Midlands.
He added there was some concern – in response to the Slovakia news – that changing markets could in future affect JLR’s presence in the region.