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Jaguar Land Rover announced last week that it will be starting production in China later this year. Although no models have been confirmed by the company, Automotive News reports that it will be the Range Rover Evoque and the Land Rover Freelander that will be built there initially.

Production will begin late in the year at JLR’s new plant in Changshu in a joint venture with Chery, with an annual capacity of 130,000 units. The group also plans to open an engine plant next to the factory to build its new range of Ingenium four-cylinder engines.

These plans are vital in boosting the group’s sales in the Middle Kingdom’s burgeoning SUV market, whose sales have risen 41% in May to 319,200 units. Jaguar Land Rover itself has seen its sales in China increase by 53% to 10,880 vehicles in May, while figures for the first five months of this year have jumped 46% to 50,900 units.

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Meanwhile, JLR and Chery are reportedly creating a new brand, whose cars are slated to be built at the same facility. The brand’s models are rumoured to be based on existing JLR products.

The mention of the Freelander is interesting – the end of the current model’s life is nigh, with the Discovery Sport bound to replace it very soon. Could it be that the compact off-roader will soldier on as a bargain-priced alternative to the Discovery Sport? Or as one of the models for the new brand?