British multinational automaker Jaguar Land Rover says it plans to invest 750 million reais (some $326 million) to build a manufacturing facility in the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, its first in the South American country.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year in Itatiaia, a town in the interior of Rio de Janeiro state, and the first vehicles are expected to roll off the assembly line in early 2016, the automaker said in a press release.
A memorandum of understanding on the plant, which JLR said will have a capacity to build 24,000 vehicles annually for the Brazilian market, was signed Thursday by Phil Hodgkinson, the company’s global business expansion director, and Sergio Cabral, Rio de Janeiro’s governor.
The plant will initially create 400 direct jobs, although the company projects that number will double by the end of the decade.
JLR, the luxury unit of India’s Tata Motors, will become the first British carmaker to open a manufacturing facility in Brazil.
The new plant makes Rio de Janeiro state Brazil’s second-leading auto manufacturing hub behind the neighboring state of Sao Paulo.
“We offer perfect conditions to JLR to install its plant in Brazil, as we have an automotive hub in the South Fluminense region that concentrates qualified labor and important suppliers,” Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral said.
South America has become a strategically important market for the company due to the demand in those countries for “highly capable premium products,” Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO, Ralf Speth, was quoted as saying.
The automaker, which has 36 dealerships in Brazil, sold 9,549 vehicles in that country in the first 10 months of 2013, up 40 percent from the same period of 2012.
Jaguar Land Rover accounts for roughly 53 percent of Brazil’s luxury SUV market.
Other luxury automakers with manufacturing facilities in Brazil include Germany’s Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.