Beds, Herts & Bucks

Vauxhall: The household names of the motoring world made in Luton

Vauxhall Vivaro Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vauxhall's plant at Luton produced its 1,000,000th Vivaro van this week

The one millionth Vauxhall Vivaro van rolled off the production line in Luton this week. It is the latest big-selling model to be made at the Bedfordshire plant. But how have they changed over the years?

The earliest models had wind down windows, ashtrays and no seatbelts. These days they are altogether more hi-tech, with air conditioning, docking stations and onboard computers.

Now in its 110th year, the Luton plant has been a flag-bearer for UK van manufacturing since Ford shut its Transit factory in Southampton.

Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption The Mark 2 Cavalier rolls out of the plant in 1981

The site was on the verge of shutting its doors four years ago but the continuing demand for the Vivaro meant last year workers began a 10-year contract building the new model, securing 1,500 jobs.

It is the latest model to go into mass production from the Luton base, which has become famous as the birthplace of household names in the motoring world, including the Cavalier car and the Luton and Bedford vans, over the years.

Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption The Vauxhall 7/9 HP from 1905
Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption The Vauxhall Frontera estate in 1995

The UK car industry

  • In July, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said UK car production hit a seven-year high in the first half of the year
  • In total 793,642 cars were built between January and June, up by 0.3% on the same period in 2014 - marking the best half-year since 2008, and means three cars a minute were made in the period
  • Ford operates three major manufacturing sites in the UK - Bridgend, where earlier this year it was announced it would build the company's new generation of petrol engines in a deal worth £181m, and Dagenham
  • Jaguar Land Rover has an engine manufacturing centre in Wolverhampton and an engineering centre and UK headquarters in Coventry - 80% of its vehicles produced in the UK are sold abroad
  • Japanese car maker Nissan announced in September it would invest £100m in its Sunderland plant to build the new Juke model - the factory currently produces the current Juke, Qashqai, Note and electric Leaf models

Source: BBC / Ford / JLR

Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption The Vauxhall Bedford Midi estate van
Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption A DX Coupe from 1935 (left) and a B-type 16HP B09 from 1909 (right)
Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption Nearly half a million Vauxhall Victors were produced at Luton in the late 1950s
Image copyright Vauxhall
Image caption The last Vauxhall Vectra built in Luton in 2001

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