Vauxhall Astra production could be moved out of UK post-Brexit
PSA boss Carlos Tavares says production at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory could end if Brexit makes operations unprofitable
Production of the new Vauxhall Astra could be moved from Ellesmere Port and out of the UK completely after Brexit, the boss of the firm’s parent company has said. Carlos Tavares, CEO of Groupe PSA, told the Financial Times that there are alternative plants where the Astra can be built in the event of a no deal Brexit.
If one of these were to be chosen over Ellesmere Port, then the Cheshire factory would most likely close, resulting in the loss of around 1,000 jobs and leaving Vauxhall’s Luton-based van plant as the firm’s last UK production facility.
“Frankly, I would prefer to put it [the Astra] in Ellesmere Port, but if the conditions are bad and I cannot make it profitable, then I have to protect the rest of the company and I will not do it,” Tavares told the FT.
He added: “We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port.”
It follows PSA’s announcement in June that the Astra would only be built at Ellesmere Port on the condition that the UK’s exit from the EU occurred on favourable terms.
In the clearest message from a major manufacturer that a bad Brexit would affect manufacturing plans PSA said while it will build the MK8 Astra at two European factories, “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”.
Groupe PSA has already confirmed its factory in Russelsheim, Germany, will be one of the plants to build the next-generation Astra.
The UK’s automotive industry has seen a sharp decline in recent months, with Honda announcing it will close its Swindon plant in 2021, and Ford confirming its Bridgend engine plant in south Wales is to close in September 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
But with Ford’s decision to close Bridgend linked to its global restructuring strategy, and Honda making no explicit links to Brexit in its Swindon announcement, Groupe PSA’s statement on the Astra is the clearest warning yet that a bad Brexit deal, or no deal, will directly impact jobs and manufacturing.
The firm says its clear message on the next-generation Astra “demonstrates the continuous effort and commitment of Groupe PSA to Vauxhall Motors.”
Ellesmere Port employs around 1,000 people; the site has previously paused production to prepare for Brexit, and announced 241 job losses would take place over 2019. PSA’s announcement that the Astra’s future UK life hinges on Brexit comes the same days as it was revealed UK car manufacturing has declined every month for the last year.
Vauxhall to cut 241 jobs at its Ellesmere Port plant
Vauxhall announced late last year that a restructure in staffing at its Ellesmere Port plant will result in the loss of 241 jobs through 2019.
Insiders state that the restructuring is not related to Brexit. Instead, the introduction of new technologies and the reduction in the size of the Cheshire-based site are the primary reasons for slimming down the current 1,145-strong workforce.
The brand started a 45-day consultation period on 23 November with trade union and employee representatives to ensure that the consequences of the reduction in numbers, which will be phased in throughout the course of this year, are mitigated as much as possible to those involved.
Primarily, this means that Vauxhall aims to make the reduncies voluntary, and will offer the employees the option and necessary support to relocate to its Luton plant if they so choose.
Back in April it was announced that Luton would produce not only the next Vivaro van but its PSA alternatives, the Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch. This is set to increase its overall production output from 70,000 to 100,000 units.
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