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Jaguar Land Rover is set to establish a factory in Slovakia. The Tata-owned company has signed a Letter of Intent with Slovakia’s government for the potential development of a new manufacturing plant in Nitra, western Slovakia.

The move marks the next step in JLR’s strategy to become a more competitive global business by expanding its manufacturing operations into new international locations.

“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,” said JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth.

Slovakia was chosen following robust analysis of a number of locations including sites in Europe (Poland strongly linked), the United States and Mexico, JLR says, citing proximity to a strong supply chain and good logistics infrastructure. Subject to the outcome of a feasibility study, a final decision is expected later this year.

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The feasibility study will explore plans for a factory with an installed capacity of up to 300,000 vehicles over the next decade. As part of JLR’s commitment to deliver more lightweight vehicles, the plant would manufacture a range of aluminium bodied vehicles. It is anticipated that the first cars will come off the production line in 2018.

JLR has made progress in building its international manufacturing presence over the last year. It opened a new joint venture in China with Chery (currently producing the real Evoque and Discovery Sport) and commenced construction of its factory in Brazil at the end of 2014. The latter, JLR’s first wholly-owned overseas plant, will be operational in early 2016 and will roll out the Disco Sport. JLR also has a plant in Pune, India.

Having plants outside the UK allows the company to increase its presence in growth regions, protect against currency fluctuations and achieve a more efficient and competitive business. Recently, it was reported that JLR is looking at a regional assembly plant in South-East Asia, with Thailand and Malaysia on the shortlist.