Jaguar Land Rover has closed its Castle Bromwich assembly plant for longer than planned while it installs equipment needed to make electric cars at the site.
The company originally said it would shut down the site for six weeks during the summer to install new tooling and planned to open it again for the autumn.
But the plant, which opened briefly in early September, has been closed again this week and next, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover confirmed.
It is expected to open the week after next, before the company closes all of its UK sites during the first week of November in an attempt to minimise disruption from Brexit. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31.
JLR’s Castle Bromwich site makes Jaguar’s saloon cars, which have seen falling demand as customers switch to sports utility vehicles.
The future of the site, which employs around 2,000 people, was secured after JLR vowed to build electric and hybrid models at the site, beginning with a battery-driven replacement for the XJ flagship saloon, as part of a £1bn investment into the plant.
A spokesman stressed the current closure was related to installation of the new equipment, and not a response to slowing demand for Jaguar cars. The site makes the XF and XE saloons, which have fallen in popularity, as well as the F-type sports car. Last year the site moved to a three-day working week in order to lower output while avoiding large-scale job losses.
JLR is in the process of laying off 4,500 white-collar workers as part of a £2.5bn cost drive to return Britain’s largest carmaker to sustainable profitability.
The spokesman said that many of the Castle Bromwich staff are on-site working on maintenance and other training, while those not on site are still being paid despite not coming into work.
BMW two weeks ago said that Mini workers at its Oxford site will be required to take unpaid leave during its Brexit November shutdown.
A spokesman for JLR said: “We recently revealed plans to manufacture a range of new electrified vehicles in Castle Bromwich as part of our commitment to offer customers electrified options for all new Jaguar and Land Rover models from 2020.
“This requires significant infrastructure upgrade to our facility at Castle Bromwich which has some short-term impact on our production schedules.”