Jaguar Land Rover plans to open its first European research and development base in Ireland in an attempt to tap into the country's growing tech sector.
Britain’s biggest car maker is to recruit 150 engineers for a new team to work on software for autonomous and electrified cars.
The move comes on top of JLR’s announcement in June that it needed to hire 5,000 engineers and technical staff - a major recruitment drive seen as a boost to the UK economy ahead of its departure from the European Union.
The company said it had selected Shannon, in western Ireland, for the new research centre because it is seen as an international hub for software engineering. Microchip giant Intel, which is also racing to make drivers obselete, has had a research facility in Shannon since 2000.
Ireland more broadly has attracted US tech giants in recent years with its tax breaks and readily available property. Google, Facebook and Twitter have established bases in recent years, cementing the country’s status as a magnet for skilled programmers.
Ralf Speth, chief executive of JLR, has said that despite Brexit, the company’s R&D efforts will remain in the UK, citing the company’s “Britishness” as one of its key selling points, although the company is expanding its manufacturing bases internationally.
The company is currently building a plant in Slovakia, and already has factories in Brazil and China to compliment the three UK plants which currently produce more than 500,000 cars out of the 620,000 vehicles JLR sells annually.
Nick Rogers, JLR’s chief engineer, said: “The heart of our business will always be in the UK. The creation of a team in Shannon strengthens our international engineering capabilities and complements our existing team of more than 10,000 engineers based in the UK.”
Ireland’s development agency has helped fund some of the research project, which will be undertaken in Shannon, although no details of the size of the investment were given.