Vauxhall chief warns of Brexit threat to Ellesmere Port

Media caption,
Vauxhall boss warns of Brexit risk to Ellesmere Port

The head of Vauxhall has said lack of clarity over Brexit threatens the future of its Ellesmere Port operation.

Carlos Tavares, chief executive of PSA, which owns Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen, said clarity over the terms of the UK's departure was "a big concern".

He told the BBC that uncertainty undermined Ellesmere Port's chances of getting more work after 2021.

"We cannot invest in a world of uncertainty," he said.

He added: "No one is going to make huge investments without knowing what will be the final competitiveness of the Brexit outcome."

Speaking to the BBC at the Geneva Motor Show, Mr Tavares said the decision on whether or not to give Ellesmere more work would need to be taken "very soon".

A spokesperson for the government's Business Department said: "The Business Secretary [Greg Clark] has met with Vauxhall's senior management team on a number of occasions to understand their plans for their Ellesmere Port plant.

"The government is continuing to engage with PSA on their future strategic plans for the UK. "

The general secretary of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, said: "Of course, the government position on Brexit is creating uncertainty for major manufacturing companies but this should not be used by Mr Tavares to raise the fear of closure of Ellesmere Port.

"The UK market is vitally important to Peugeot and if he wants to protect that market share he should openly commit to new models in both Ellesmere Port and Luton.

"Our Vauxhall plants are among the most productive in the PSA family, and the products our members make are among the most popular vehicles in the country."

Image source, Vauxhall

Mr Tavares said: "I would like to praise our UK people in terms of their efficiency, but at the same time we need clarity.

"This is not a problem for the PSA Group, this is a problem for the whole UK automotive industry."

PSA said last year it was committed to keep making the Astra at Ellesmere Port, but it has also said that manufacturing costs at Ellesmere are higher than other plants it owns.

However, it said in January that it was cutting another 250 jobs at Ellesmere Port on top of 400 cuts it announced in October.

Vauxhall employs about 4,500 people in the UK, with about 1,800 at Ellesmere Port. The company also has a factory at Luton, which makes vans.

In August last year, PSA became Europe's second-biggest carmaker, after Volkswagen, when it completed the purchase of Vauxhall and German brand Opel from General Motors.