Intelligent Energy

Hail gasoline! Boom times and jobs at UK's Jaguar Land Rover

Posting in Energy

Who cares about man made climate change, when you can have employment?

This Jaguar FX Sportbrake station wagon is rounding the bend from the industry's fossil fuel past - to its fossil fuel future!

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Man made climate change? The scourge of fossil fuels? All that stuff can take a back seat when it comes to creating jobs.

So it would seem at Jaguar Land Rover. The Indian-owned maker of big gasoline and diesel powered cars is expanding its factory outside Birmingham, England to churn out fossil fuel powered station wagons and other cars.

To be fair, JLR seems to offer decent efficiency from its internal combustion engines. The website Auto Express noted in May that the station wagon, called the XF Sportbrake, ranges between 44 mpg and 53 mpg, depending on the model and engine size.

But these vehicles, efficient though they may be, are still drawing straight from the fossil fuel siphon, and not from alternative sources, like the electricity grid that feeds electric cars (which, of course, also relies heavily on fossil fuels, but still reduces the CO2 footprint). No "hybrid," no "hydrogen," no "biofuel" in this JLR chapter.

Never mind that.

Or that JLR will presumably put many of the automobiles on fossil fuel powered ships that will travel half way around the world to China and other favorable markets, belching copious CO2 into the atmosphere as they navigate the ocean waves. JLR, owned by India's Tata Group, exports about 80 percent of production from the factory in suburban Castle Bromwich - and that's how it recorded a £352 million ($545 million) profit surge to £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) last year, the Guardian notes.

Work, work, work. These guys have jobs pushing a Sportbrake off the line near Birmingham. They'll soon have 1,100 new co-workers.

Today's JLR press release mentions none of that of course. Rather, with quotes from JLR executives and from the UK government's Business Secretary Vince Cable, it spins the importance of jobs. Jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs.

Did I say jobs? In case not, see if you can spot the word and its equivalents in this excerpt from the release, which carries the headline Jaguar Land Rover Announces 1,100 New Jobs in the UK. I'll help you out by adding bold typeface:

Commenting on the new jobs, Des Thurlby, HR Director at JLR said: "We have embarked on the most ambitious recruitment campaign in the company's history, hiring 8,000 people in the last two years. We provide high quality training and development for all of our employees so this latest announcement for 1,100 jobs is great news for the West Midlands and the UK supply chain."

JLR anticipates that the launch of these new Jaguar models will also support thousands of jobs in the UK supply chain.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, said: "This is fantastic news for Castle Bromwich that Jaguar Land Rover is creating more than 1,000 jobs to support the production of new models at the plant. This expansion is a clear demonstration of Jaguar Land Rover's continuing commitment and investment in the UK."

JLR timed its announcement well. It helps offset today's grim revelation from the UK that the country officially plunged deeper into recession. The Office of National Statistics reported GDP fell by 0.7 percent in the second quarter, marking the country's third consecutive quarterly slip. Jaguar sales are up 19 percent through the first half, compared to the same period in 2011, JLR says in its press release.

The plant expansion epitomizes the proverbial trade-off between economic growth and environmental sustainability - a balance that in the ongoing, drawn out global economic slowdown can skew towards "growth."

It echoes both Mazda's decision to emphasize the internal combustion engine, as well as Rolls-Royce's success selling gas guzzlers to China. The auto industry is moving toward more fuel efficient models of conventionally powered cars - at least half of that combination is a good thing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get an application into the assembly line outside Birmingham. A job there would probably pay more than journalism.

Photos: Jaguar Land Rover

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure