New Vauxhall Astra will not be built at Ellesmere Port if UK leaves EU without a deal

Vauxhall says its best-selling Astra will only continue to be built at Ellesmere Port if terms of EU exit deal are favourable

Vauxhall will not build the next-generation Astra at its Ellesmere Port facility in Cheshire if the UK exits the European Union on unfavourable terms, the firm’s owner has announced.

In the clearest message from a major manufacturer that a bad Brexit would affect manufacturing plans, Vauxhall’s parent company, Groupe PSA, said while it will build the MK8 Astra at two European factories, “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”.

Groupe PSA has already confirmed its factory in Russelsheim, Germany, will be one of the plants to build the next-generation Astra.

The UK’s automotive industry has seen a sharp decline in recent months, with Honda announcing it will close its Swindon plant in 2021, and Ford confirming its Bridgend engine plant in south Wales is to close in September 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

But with Ford’s decision to close Bridgend linked to its global restructuring strategy, and Honda making no explicit links to Brexit in its Swindon announcement, Groupe PSA’s statement on the Astra is the clearest warning yet that a bad Brexit deal, or no deal, will directly impact jobs and manufacturing.

The firm says its clear message on the next-generation Astra “demonstrates the continuous effort and commitment of Groupe PSA to Vauxhall Motors.”

Ellesmere Port employs around 1,000 people; the site has previously paused production to prepare for Brexit, and announced 241 job losses would take place over 2019. PSA’s announcement that the Astra’s future UK life hinges on Brexit comes the same days as it was revealed UK car manufacturing has declined every month for the last year. 

Vauxhall to cut 241 jobs at its Ellesmere Port plant

Vauxhall announced late last year that a restructure in staffing at its Ellesmere Port plant will result in the loss of 241 jobs through 2019.

Insiders state that the restructuring is not related to Brexit. Instead, the introduction of new technologies and the reduction in the size of the Cheshire-based site are the primary reasons for slimming down the current 1,145-strong workforce.

• Best new cars coming in 2019

The brand started a 45-day consultation period on 23 November with trade union and employee representatives to ensure that the consequences of the reduction in numbers, which will be phased in throughout the course of this year, are mitigated as much as possible to those involved.

Primarily, this means that Vauxhall aims to make the reduncies voluntary, and will offer the employees the option and necessary support to relocate to its Luton plant if they so choose.

Back in April it was announced that Luton would produce not only the next Vivaro van but its PSA alternatives, the Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch. This is set to increase its overall production output from 70,000 to 100,000 units.

Ellesmere Port currently builds both the current-generation Astra hatchback (which is also produced in Poland) and the Astra Sports Tourer (manufactured exclusively in the UK). It currently makes around 92,000 cars a year, 90 per cent of which are exported to other markets. Despite the lower staff numbers, output is expected to stay the same in 2019.

What do you think the future holds for Ellesmere Port? Let us know in the comments…