Vauxhall, the British division of General Motors, said on May 17 that it will build the new Astra model at its northern England plant in a £125-million investment. The announcement of the deal, equivalent to $198 million or 156 million euros, secures the future of the Ellesmere Port facility, which will become the lead plant in Europe for the Astra. The car will also be built in Poland.
Vauxhall added that the move will create an extra 700 jobs at the site in northwest England, with another 3,000 jobs in the supply chain.
The British government has lobbied to keep the Ellesmere Port car factory open, as General Motors mulled the future of its loss-making European activities.
Assembly of the new car is expected to start in 2015 and the group aims to produce a minimum of 160,000 vehicles per year.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the announcement, which came after Vauxhall car workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new pay deal ."This is excellent news for Ellesmere Port and for UK manufacturing," the premier said.
"Once again we have seen the success of the UK automotive industry and the crucial role it plays in growing and rebalancing our economy. This has been a real team effort with the government, the company, unions and workers all focused on keeping production in the UK," Cameron added.
Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, added that the announcement was a major boost for the country's long-suffering auto sector. "This is extremely good news for Ellesmere Port. The company has made an offer to the workforce, which our members have accepted," said Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey. "Importantly this move will also bring component supplier plants back into the UK, a development that strengthens our manufacturing base generally."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012