It has been widely reported in the press that Groupe PSA said the next generation of the Vauxhall Astra will be built at the Ellesmere Port car plant in Cheshire, if a satisfactory Brexit deal is reached, adding that the decision demonstrated “the continuous effort and commitment” of the group.
Currently, Vauxhall and Opel Astras are built in Ellesmere Port, which was opened in 1962, and in Gliwice, Poland.
Groupe PSA (www.groupe-psa.com
) said that the decision on the allocation to the Ellesmere Port plant “will be conditional on the final terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union and the acceptance of the New Vehicle Agreement, which has been negotiated with the Unite trade union”.
This is an agreement between management and unions covering working practices (along with terms and conditions) before the production of new models is given the go-ahead.
The decision to build the new model at Ellesmere Port would help to safeguard the future of the plant, which has been in doubt since Groupe PSA took control of Vauxhall in 2017.
The factory currently makes an older version of the Astra, but sales have been declining, and the number of people working there has almost halved since the takeover.
If matters go according to plan, Ellesmere Port (it currently employs about 1,100 people) would be one of two factories that will begin building the new Astra in 2021.
However, Groupe PSA has made it clear the decision to build the car in the UK will depend on the terms of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU. It has been reported that the minimum the company is looking for is a commitment to frictionless trade after Brexit, and that no-deal is not an option.
The UK’s automotive industry has received a series of ‘knock-backs’ in recent months, with Honda announcing that it will close its Swindon plant in 2021, Ford saying that its Bridgend engine plant in South Wales will close in September 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs, and Nissan opting to build the next X-Trail model in Japan, rather than in Sunderland.