Ellesmere Port: Vauxhall plant’s future secured with electric vehicle production
Written by Hitmix News on 6 July 2021
Vauxhall’s parent firm has revealed a new electric vehicle future for its Ellesmere Port plant, removing a years-long threat of closure from the factory.
Stellantis confirmed on Tuesday that a government grant, coupled with a £100m investment of its own, would at least safeguard the 1,000 jobs left at the site and thousands more in the local supply chain.
Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, its statement said, would become Stellantis’s “first manufacturing site dedicated to battery electric LCV (vans) and passenger car models for Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën” – other major brands within the group.
Image: There was no word on whether an all-electric Astra would form part of Ellesmere Port’s future. Pic: Vauxhall
There are also plans in place to explore the creation of a new UK parts distribution centre at the Cheshire site.
The announcement follows months of talks between the company and officials on whether the plant, the traditional home of the Astra, was viable on several grounds including Brexit.
But the biggest issue for Stellantis, in the wake of the UK’s trade deal with the bloc, was the government’s vision for an all-electric car future.
Chief executive Carlos Tavares had previously described the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars from 2030 as “brutal” and ministers were warned the plant, which dates back to 1962, may have to shut without state aid for an electric conversion.
The amount of money placed on the table by the government was not disclosed for reasons of commercial sensitivity but has been reported to be around £30m.
Stellantis said its plans would see the first all-electric vehicles start to roll off the production line from late next year.
Image: Ellesmere Port has built more than five million vehicles during its 59-year history. Pic: AP
The eight models would include the Vauxhall Combo-e van and Combo-e Life passenger car – and similar branded vehicles for Citroën, Opel and Peugeot.
They would have, the company said, ranges of up to 174 miles and fast-charging ability.
“This new era of manufacturing will see a transformation of the Ellesmere Port plant fit for the future, with a new body shop, upgraded general assembly, a compression of the site area and the creation of an on-site battery pack assembly.
“In addition, there will be further support to enable a pathway to carbon neutrality for the plant by the middle of this decade.
“The plant aims to be 100% self-sufficient for electricity and work will commence imminently on potential wind and solar farms,” Stellantis said.
The announcement builds on the recent electric progress for the UK after Nissan’s decision last month to build a £1bn battery gigafactory in Sunderland.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said of the latest news: “Today’s decision will not only power Ellesmere Port into a clean future, but will secure thousands of jobs across the region in the supply chain.
“In this global race to secure electric vehicle production, we are proud to support Britain’s auto sector in this crucial transition as we work to build back better.”
The Unite union’s Ellesmere Port convenor, John Cooper, added: “This is a day for celebration and the culmination of a years-long campaign by Unite’s reps and members at the plant to secure its long-term future.
“Everyone at Ellesmere Port can now breathe a huge sigh of relief as they look forward to playing a trail-blazing role in the next generation of van-making in the UK.”