Vauxhall Astra: Ellesmere Port manufacture 'depends on Brexit'

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image captionThe Vauxhall Astra is currently built in Ellesmere Port

The next generation of the Vauxhall Astra will be built at its Ellesmere Port car plant if a satisfactory Brexit deal is reached, its owners have said.

The PSA Group said it would also invest in the Rüsselsheim plant in Germany to manufacture Opel Astras from 2021.

It said the decision would be conditional on the New Vehicle Agreement, negotiated with Unite.

In a statement, it said the decision demonstrated "the continuous effort and commitment" of the group.

Currently the Vauxhall and Opel Astra are built in Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, which was opened in 1962, and in Gliwice, Poland.

The PSA Group said 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 and the acceptance of the New Vehicle Agreement, which has been negotiated with the Unite trade union".

The New Vehicle Agreement is an agreement between management and unions covering working practices along with terms and conditions which are struck prior to the production of new models.


By BBC business correspondent Theo Leggett

image copyrightPA
image captionVauxhall employs about 3,000 people in the UK

The decision to build the new model at Ellesmere Port would help to safeguard the future of the Cheshire plant, which has been in doubt since PSA Group took control of Vauxhall in 2017.

The factory currently makes an older version of the Astra, but sales have been declining, and the number of people working there has almost halved since the takeover.

Under the plan, Ellesmere Port would be one of two factories which will begin building the new Astra in 2021.

However, PSA Group has made it clear the decision to build the car in the UK will depend on the terms of the UK's future trading relationship with the EU.

Sources say the minimum the company is looking for is a commitment to frictionless trade after Brexit, and no-deal is not an option.

Vauxhall has previously said it faces falling sales and relatively high manufacturing costs at the Ellesmere Port plant, which employs about 1,100 people.

A Unite union spokesman, said: "PSA have made it very clear that no deal means no deal for Ellesmere Port.

"We are calling on the government to take no deal off the table so that the future of Ellesmere Port - and the thousands of jobs in the supply chain - can be secured."

Car production has been falling in the UK over the past year, amid increasing pleas from the industry for a Brexit deal.

The UK's automotive industry has received a series of blows in recent months, with Honda announcing it will close its Swindon plant in 2021.

Ford also said its Bridgend engine plant in south Wales would close in September 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Japanese car producers, including Nissan, have said that Brexit uncertainty is not helping them "plan for the future".

Earlier this year, Nissan opted to build the next X-Trail model in Japan, rather than in Sunderland.

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