French car giant commits to Ellesmere Port but fires Brexit warning

The firm which owns Vauxhall has confirmed that the next generation Astra is to be built at Ellesmere Port.

The future of Vauxhall’s plant has been in doubt and the news will be welcomed by the 1,100 staff who work there.

However, PSA Group said the decision is dependent on the final terms of the UK’s Brexit deal.

Several carmakers have announced the closure of plants in the UK in recent months including Honda and Ford.

The long-term future of the Ellesmere Port plant has been in doubt for a number of years.

Carlos Tavares, the boss of the PSA Group, has stated that it needs to close the cost and quality gap to the group’s other European plants in order to survive.

PSA bought General Motors’ Opel division, which trades as Vauxhall in the UK in 2017.

It has been restructuring operations to increase profitability at the once loss-making brands.

Over 900 people have lost their jobs in the last two years as part of the restructuring.

The French firm, which also owns the Citroën, DS and Peugeot brands, has confirmed it is planning for the facility near Liverpool to be one of two European manufacturing locations for the next-generation Astra.

The other plant is in Russelsheim in Germany.

The current Astra is built at Ellesmere Port and Opel’s Gliwice facility in Poland.

PSA said it has been “working hard” to turn around Vauxhall’s fortunes and the decision over Ellesmere Port “demonstrates the continuous effort and commitment of Groupe PSA to Vauxhall Motors”.

However, the firm warned about the possible implications of the UK leaving the EU with no deal in place.

A statement 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 Tradeo deal in Union.”

Ellesmere Port opened in 1962 on the site of RAF Hooton Park and was home to the Vauxhall Viva.

It later produced the Chevette, and in 1980 it became the first Vauxhall plant to produce and export Opel cars to Europe. The Astra has been made there since 1981.

Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, Christine Gaskell, said: “Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership welcomes today’s news by Groupe PSA, owner of Vauxhall Motors, that they have conditionally chosen Ellesmere Port as the UK manufacturing site for the next generation Astra.

“Vauxhall has long been an integral part of Cheshire’s engineering landscape, having manufactured in Ellesmere Port for almost 60 years, so we welcome this positive message of commitment to the future of the plant.”