Vauxhall’s UK plants pause production over Brexit woes

The firm’s UK facilities have entered a period of scheduled downtime in response to the previously planned Brexit deadline of March 29

Vauxhall’s two UK plants have been temporarily shut down in an attempt to minimise the impact of Brexit. The scheduled downtime was organised several months ago, with the expectation that Brexit would take effect on 29 March.

That earlier planning means Vauxhall is unable to reopen its facilities at Ellesmere Port and Luton in spite of the UK’s Brexit extension, as it has already granted holiday for its staff and hired contractors to carry out maintenance work during the downtime.

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Vauxhall’s temporary plant stoppages mark the latest instance of financial and manufacturing disruption caused by Brexit uncertainty. The firm’s inactive facilities join BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda’s UK plants, all of which also gambled on a punctual Brexit.

The impact of these plant stoppages could have detrimental effects to all four manufacturers’ finances. As the terms of Brexit currently remain unfinalised, and the UK continues to participate in the EU trade union, were they to remain open, the factories would be able to build vehicles for export that would take advantage of a tariff-free market.

Over 2,300 Vauxhall employees have been forced to take leave from their posts at the firm’s Ellesmere Port and Luton facilities. The future of Ellesmere Port remains uncertain, with Vauxhall trimming more than 900 employees over the last two years, due to falling demand for the Astra.

PSA’s Chief Executive, Carlos Tavares, has previously stated that the Ellesmere Port site needs to improve its productivity to survive. Luton may fare better, with PSA investing around £100 million into the facility, allowing it to cope with production of the new Vauxhall Vivaro van.

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