The plant will have an initial annual production capacity of 130,000 vehicles – more than double the number it sells in the UK, according to Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) China president Bob Grace.

Meanwhile, talks are ongoing over another major plant in Saudi Arabia, as JLR’s giant global expansion continues apace.

“They start to make the first prototype bodies this week, and it’s almost a miracle that’s come out of the ground in such a short period of time,” Mr Grace told reporters at the Beijing motor show. “It’s going to be a product from the Land Rover stable, so it’s going to be an SUV,” he said.

The giant new plant is being built through a joint venture with Chery Automobile in Changshu.

JLR announced in March 2012 that £1.6 billion would be invested in the new plant to manufacture Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles and engines, as well as the establishment of a research and development centre and the creation of a new automobile marque.

Industry press say the first vehicle to be produced in China will be an SUV with an engine size of less than two litres.

Mr Grace said manufacturing in China is key to JLR’s earnings growth.

Production in China is seen as particularly important as it is the world’s largest auto market and manufacturing there allows companies to avoid the nation’s 25% import tariff.