Next Astra to be UK built

17 May, 2012 11:00am

Next-generation Vauxhall Astra will be built at Ellesmere Port, General Motors has confirmed

The next-generation Vauxhall Astra will be built at the firm's facility in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, as part of a £125million investment that will secure the future of 2,100 workers and create 700 new jobs.

The announcement follows last night's vote by Vauxhall staff on a new pay and conditions deal. An overwhelming 94 per cent voted in favour of the new deal, which will allow more flexible hours as the plant moves towards 24-hour, seven-days-a-week working.

Production of the next-generation Astra will begin in 2015, and the agreement - which lasts until the early 2020s - is for a minimum of 160,000 cars to be built every year.

The future of the Ellesmere Port plant had been under threat, with parent company General Motors reporting continued losses in Europe. GM's European division Opel has lost 11billion dollars (£7billion) since 1997, and 750million dollars last year alone.

Speaking at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year, President of GM International Operations Tim Lee told Auto Express: “We are determined to turn these two great brands (Vauxhall and Opel) around. Key players from GM are working on this, including myself, and it will be a large part of our focus over the next few years.”

He explained that the plan is to improve profitability by increasing sales, introducing a host of new products, and by reducing manufacturing costs. Lee said, “If we currently have two warehouses in Belgium, then we will now have one.”

He admitted that this could result in future job losses, but said: “We will build cars where we sell them and won’t chase cheap labour around the world, as it doesn’t make sense.”.

The future of Opel's factory in Bochum, Germany, is still under threat. Bochum produces 30 cars an hour over three shifts a day, while Ellesmere Port produces 47 cars an hour over two shifts a day.