Is it really possible to continue building cars amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Land Rover just proved that it is indeed possible. This is the first-ever Range Rover built under the company's new social distancing measures, and it recently rolled off Land Rover's Solihull factory which restarted operations last May 18.
According to the automaker, effective social distancing, hygiene, and health monitoring measures in production lines, engineering facilities, office areas, and communal spaces allowed the company to build the said Range Rover during the company's phased return to manufacturing. Other measures that aim to curb the spread of the virus include temperature checks with thermal cameras, a two-meter distancing between people whenever possible, provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the workers, and the introduction of one-way systems and enhanced cleaning procedures at the plant.
“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,” said Grant McPherson, Jaguar Land Rover Executive Director, Manufacturing.
Dr. Steve Iley, JLR's Chief Medical Officer, said that thanks to the safety measures developed by the company, the workforce feels reassured coming back to the workplace after months of not being able to build cars.
“Our measures are based on the 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,” added Iley.
Besides the Solihull factory, Jaguar Land Rover also announced that production at the company's factories in Slovakia, and in Austria have resumed this week. Ingenium engine production has also restarted since last week at the automaker's Engine Manufacturing Center in Wolverhampton, UK. Meanwhile, the facility located in China has been operational since the middle of February as vehicle sales recover there and customers return to showrooms following the easing of restrictions.
With several parts of the world also starting to ease restrictions, Jaguar Land Rover is hoping that this will also translate to boost in sales as the company gradually increases vehicle production over the next few months. This is good news for us in the Philippines as this could mean that the scheduled arrival of the all-new Defender might push through later this year.
It was originally scheduled to make its local debut some time in Q1 of 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the automaker had to delay it indefinitely. The starting price of the new Defender starts at PhP 6.09 million and all variants are powered by a 3.0-liter, mild-hybrid inline-six that benefits from an electric supercharger and a twin-scroll turbocharger, resulting in a total output of 400 PS with 550 Nm of torque.